Robert Johnston

[ Age 80 ] Stieff Co. marketing director, and benefactor to Conn. silver museum

March 30, 2007

Robert M. Johnston, former director of marketing for the Stieff Co. and benefactor of a Connecticut silver museum, died of cancer Monday in the health care center at the Blakehurst retirement community in Towson. He was 80.

Mr. Johnston was born in Waterbury, Conn., and was raised in Bristol, Conn. He was a 1944 graduate of Worcester Academy in Worcester, Mass. He served in the merchant marine near the end of World War II and earned a bachelor's degree in 1948 in philosophy from Yale University.

While at Yale, he sang with the glee club and composed "White Shoe Blues," which is in the Yale Song Book. He was a member of the Songwriters Guild of America.

He joined the International Silver Co. in Meriden, Conn., as a sales trainee in 1948 and rose through the ranks to become the company's director of marketing.

While at International Silver Co., his Peace Cup design was featured at the 1964 World's Fair that was held in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

Mr. Johnston joined the Stieff Co. in Baltimore in 1975, where he was vice president of marketing for four years.

In 1981, when he was appointed director of the Sterling Silversmith's Guild of America, he established R.M. Johnston and Associates, a consulting firm to the silver industry.

"Silver was his passion," said his wife of 50 years, the former Nancy Heflin.

Mr. Johnston had collected a large library devoted to silver and silversmithing, which he presented to the Silver Museum in Wallingford, Conn.

He volunteered with the Depression and Related Affective Disorders Association and Reading for the Blind.

Mr. Johnston was a fan of big-band music and earlier in his life had played the saxophone. He was a member of the Baltimore Country Club and The Yale Club of New York.

He was a communicant of St. David's Episcopal Church, 4700 Roland Ave., where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Also surviving are two sons, Christopher H. Johnston of New York City and Peter M. Johnston of Somerville, Mass.; and a grandson.

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