Thomas J. Johnston, a retired Bethlehem Steel supervisor and human resources consultant, and a rail enthusiast, died of prostate cancer Wednesday at Manor Care Ruxton. The Timonium resident was 79.
Mr. Johnston was born in Philadelphia and raised in Lynbrook, N.Y., and Chicago. After earning a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame in 1953, he went to work for U.S. Steel in Chicago.
In 1966, Mr. Johnston moved to Baltimore when he took a position as production planner and supervisor at Bethlehem Steel's Sparrows Point plant. He retired in 1985.
From 1985 until retiring a second time in 2002, he was a human resources consultant and vice president in the Baltimore office of Drake Beam Morin Inc.
Mr. Johnston's interest in railroading began early in life. His father, a Pullman Co. employee, had worked at Grand Central Terminal in New York City, family members said.
He built and painted intricate brass HO-gauge scale models and also did the same for other model railroaders. He had an extensive library devoted to railroading.
Mr. Johnston also enjoyed traveling by train.
"He took us on trips by sleeper out West to Montana and Canada. My mother went on one of the trips, but then he just took me and my brother, which I think now was pretty brave," said his daughter, Laura D. Johnston, a Timonium resident and director of conferences for the U.S. Naval Institute in Annapolis. "I remember sleeping in Pullman cars and riding dome cars on the Great Northern Railroad."
Last year, Mr. Johnston was able to fulfill a life's dream when he visited Normandy, France.
"We traveled there by Jewel of the Seas ship, and he was so happy to see Normandy," Ms. Johnston said.
Mr. Johnston was a communicant and Eucharistic minister at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Baltimore and Ware avenues, in Towson, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 12:30 p.m. Monday.
Also surviving are his wife of 48 years, the former Dawn Kelley, a retired teacher; a son, James B. Johnston of Timonium; a sister, Josephine Burns of Randallstown; and two nephews.