Born: April 13, 1951; Died: July 9, 2013.
Billy Johnstone was a rare human being and a true friend. He made friends easily - he had a wonderful ability to be at home with people, and accept people the way they were. That, coupled with a wonderful sense of humour, with his legendary stories which were embellished every time he told them, made time spent with Billy an absolute joy. He was also a man whose love and concern for others inspired and encouraged many people throughout his life.
He was brought up in Easterhouse and attended Wellhouse Primary School and Cranhill Secondary School. On leaving school he worked in gents tailors shops and various sales roles before returning to formal education many years later. He graduated from Paisley University with a BA (Hons) in Applied Social Studies in 1995.
Billy worked as a social worker in Glasgow before moving in 1998 to work as a mental health officer for Argyll and Bute Council.
He married Gwen, his wife and soulmate, in St Mary's Parish Church in Motherwell and they set up home in East Kilbride. Billy was an elder and bible class teacher in Moncrieff Parish Church for many years. In 1993 he joined the Quakers and was soon heavily involved in the organisation, sitting on various committees, and acting as an elder and overseer.
He also did a lot of voluntary work for a number of organisations, and for many years he was chairman of Loaves and Fishes (a charity about which he was passionate) that provides food and clothing for the homeless.
When work commitments led Billy and Gwen to Tarbert, they lived in a beautiful house overlooking Loch Fyne, where they loved to spend time visiting friends and relatives. During his nine years there Billy immersed himself in the local community by joining the Fyneside Drama Group in Ardrishaig, starting the mid-Argyll Link Club for people with learning difficulties and a local meeting for people with addiction problems.
Billy and Gwen returned to live in the Glasgow area when he moved to work as a mental health officer for West Dunbartonshire Council based at Clydebank. He took early retirement in February 2012, and enjoyed spending time bowling, cooking and meeting friends.
But there was much more to Billy Johnstone, who died aged 62, after an eight-month battle with brain cancer.
It was both in his own time and in his work that Billy touched the lives of so many. During Billy's Quaker funeral which was attended by a large number of his friends and family, including many people he had helped through difficulties in their lives, the following tributes were made.
The Rev David Currie said: "Billy Johnstone was a man of impeccable character with a heart of gold, and I am proud to say, my best pal. One of the hobbies Billy and I had in common was running. We joined East Kilbride Athletic Club and ran the 1985 Glasgow Marathon- after putting in more thn 1000 miles of training we were rewarded with best times not far off the three-hour mark! He was rightly chuffed to bits.
"The Christian faith was really important for Billy - he wasn't one of those people who just talked the talk, Billy walked the walk. He expressed his love for Jesus and his faith in God in many ways - through his gentle, genuine and caring nature and attending faithfully his Quakers' Meeting for Worship."
Denis Curran, the current chairman of Loaves & Fishes, also paid tribute to Billy. He was a remarkable man, he said, who gave to others in an unsung way. He once arranged a caravan holiday at Lochgilphead for four homeless men and organised annual Christmas dinners for vulnerable people in Lochgilphead and Glasgow. He also began the Christmas food parcels and children's toys deliveries in East Kilbride. The first year 30 parcels were given out; in 2011 it was 700.
According to Arthur Brooking, a friend, this generosity was typical of Billy -he was always helping others in need. "One memory that will stay with me," says Arthur, "was when I visited him in hospital just after he had brain surgery he asked for his phone so that he could phone a few friends to make sure they were alright. He was always more concerned about others than himself."
A Quaker friend said: "His spirit will surely live on in the consciousness of people whose life he has touched".
A Quaker memorial service for Billy will be held on September 21 at 11am at Renfield St Stephen's Church of Scotland in Bath Street, Glasgow.
Gwen Johnstone and Ian Sharp
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