Just a few weeks after leading the Shockers in the team’s post-game locker room cheer, Jerry Johnston has died.
The 79-year-old former owner of Johnston’s – the store that outfits Shocker Coach Gregg Marshall – died early Monday morning. He was hospitalized Sunday, a day after his beloved team lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Marshall sent his condolences.
“He says his heart goes out to us,” Johnston says.
Jerry Johnston was managing a Duckwall store in 1965 when the landlord at Boulevard Plaza approached him about taking over a store there that was known as McVicar’s.
The store opened downtown in 1914 as McVicar, Howard & Millhaubt.
“Basically it was broke, but (he) didn’t know it,” J.V. Johnston says.
His father borrowed money from his father, his father-in-law and a friend and mortgaged his house to pay for the store.
After a couple of weeks, Johnston says his father realized the true situation.
“He had three little boys and wife at home,” he says. “He had no choice but to make it go.”
The store had several locations and a few name changes. It’s now in the Collective at 21st and K-96.
Johnston, his wife, Veronica, and Kevin Edmundson own the store. Jerry Johnston’s legacy of customer service remains, his son says.
“That was his golden rule,” Johnston says. “Just take care of customers and do whatever you need to. …Don’t treat the janitor any different than the millionaire. Treat them both like a millionaire.”
He says his father showed a profit every year because of that service and gave a lot back to the community, too.
An emotional Johnston says one of the biggest compliments to his father would come regularly long after he stopped working at the store.
“First, before they even said, ‘Hi,’ they said, ‘How’s your dad?’”