William Thomas “Billy Tom” Johnston, a lifelong resident of Benton, Louisiana, was born May 22, 1938 to Samuel Hudson Johnston and Lena Mae Montgomery Johnston at Highland Hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana. He passed away Saturday, February 20, 2021.
Billy Tom attended Benton Schools and graduated in 1956. He then attended McNeese State College on basketball and baseball scholarships, graduating in 1960. He received an offer to play for the St. Louis Cardinals Organization but instead served proudly in the United States Army. He completed basic training at Fort Hood and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant at Fort Sill. He continued playing baseball as a pitcher on an army baseball team where he was instrumental in leading his team to qualify for the Military World Series but as fate would have it, he was honorably discharged before he was able to participate.
Billy Tom began his career as a cattleman, when as a teenager, his grandfather, James Haywood Montgomery, Sr., bought him his first cows. He began driving a tractor when he was 12 years old and later farmed cotton and soybeans. He was the Registrar of Voters for Bossier Parish and became state chairman of the Louisiana Board of Trustees of the Registrar’s Association after his retirement. Billy Tom was also recognized in the area as a homebuilder.
Billy Tom was president of Palmetto Country Club and spent many happy hours playing golf with his family. He was a longtime, active member of the Benton United Methodist Church and served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for twenty years. He was a member of the Benton Masonic Lodge and the El Karubah Shrine. He was an avid bird and duck hunter, but deer hunting was his favorite. He was a lifelong Boston Red Sox fanatic and cheered proudly for the Alabama Crimson Tide. His greatest love was the Lord and his family.
Billy Tom was preceded in death by his father; his mother; and his stepmother, Annie Bert Johnston. He is survived by his wife, Carol Jean Waggonner Johnston of Benton, Louisiana; daughters, Vivette Johnston Middlebrooks and her husband, Steve of Benton, Louisiana; Elizabeth Johnston Blackburn and her husband, Nate of Dallas, Texas; Sarah Johnston Davison and her husband, Steve of Choudrant, Louisiana; brother-in-law, David Waggonner of New Orleans, Louisiana; grandchildren, Quaid Middlebrooks and wife, Caitlyn, Quinci Middlebrooks, Cate Davison, Joseph Davison, Thomas Blackburn, Will Blackburn; and great-grandchildren, Lenox Middlebrooks, Baylor Middlebrooks, and Lincoln Middlebrooks.
A graveside service will be held at Plain Dealing Cemetery in Plain Dealing, Louisiana at 1:00 p.m., Wednesday, February 24, 2021. Officiating at the service will be Reverend Cheryl Nelson and Reverend Brad Franklin.
Honoring Billy Tom as pallbearers will be Fred Alford, Jonathan Brunson, Pete Burks, Wayne Cathcart, John David Johnston, Mark Johnston, Mont Rodes and Donnie Leflett. Serving as honorary pallbearers will be Johnnie Brunson, Sr., John “Tutty” Bundy, George Marble, Bob McGowen, Lawrence Pilkinton, Jr., Dusty Rhodes, Julian Whittingon, Mike Woodard and Jim Yates. The family would also like to thank Dr. Kennedy Lim, his nurses, Carla and Yolanda, and the 3rd floor West Nursing Staff at Willis-Knighton Bossier.
The family suggests memorials may be made to Benton United Methodist Church, 4615 Palmetto Road, Benton, Louisiana 71006 or to the charity of the donor’s choice.