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RNC Chief Joe Boland among many mourning the death of former RNC chief Bob Johnston

RNC Chief Joe Boland speaks to reporters Tuesday outside RNC headquarters in St. John's about former RNC chief Bob Johnston, who died Monday after a 22-month battle with brain cancer.
RNC Chief Joe Boland speaks to reporters Tuesday outside RNC headquarters in St. John's about former RNC chief Bob Johnston, who died Monday after a 22-month battle with brain cancer. - Rosie Mullaley

'Somehow we feel robbed today'

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

For those who knew him, Bob Johnston wasn't just a respected police officer who made an impact on the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary in this province.

The effect he had on people's lives went well beyond that.

"He was a decent human being, a good person, a person who wanted to make a difference in this community and had a significant impact on the community, on our officers, on anybody who met him," Chief Joe Boland told reporters outside RNC headquarters Tuesday, a day after the former RNC chief died of brain cancer at the age of 60.

"He had a saying — people won't remember sometimes what you said or what you did, but they will always remember how they felt when you left them. That was Bob Johnston in a nutshell. He always made you feel better any time you had a conversation with him and walked away.

"Somehow, we feel robbed today."

Former RNC chief Bob Johnston.
Former RNC chief Bob Johnston.

Johnston, who grew up in Mount Pearl, began his career as a police officer when he enrolled on May 7, 1979.

He had a significant career with the RNC, moving consistently through the ranks to sergeant in 1988, staff sergeant in 1993, inspector in 2002 and deputy chief in 2004.

On May 1, 2010, he was appointed the RNC’s 20th chief of police, a position he held until his retirement in 2014.

Throughout his career, Johnston was recognized for his outstanding service.

He was the recipient of the 20- and 30-year Police Exemplary Service Awards, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, and in 2012 governor general David Johnston appointed Johnston to the Order of Merit in the officers’ category.

“Chief Johnston will always be an important part of the RNC’s history and has helped shape who we are today," Boland said in his Facebook post when announcing Johnston's death, while offering condolences to Johnston's family, including his wife Gloria, daughters Sarah and Amanda, grandson Jack and son-in-law Matthew.

Boland told reporters that Johnston helped the RNC get through some difficult economic times in the 1990s, when there was a hiring freeze, and helped rebuild the organization with his outstanding leadership skills.

"If you were to pick an officer you would want to model an organization after, he was that officer," Boland said.

"He will be missed by many."

Boland is one of many mourning Johnston and remembering him as an esteemed officer, devoted family man, good friend and kind-hearted person.

Former RNC officer Garry Crocker, who retired just a few months after Johnston, said, "He was a great guy who was as honest as the day was long."

"If you were to pick an officer you would want to model an organization after, he was that officer." — RNC Chief Joe Boland

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Justice Minister Andrew Parsons said Johnston will be regarded for his strength and contributions to this province.

"He was instrumental in the evolution of the RNC becoming one of the world's finest police agencies," Parsons said.

"After being diagnosed (with brain cancer), he gave hope to survivors through positivity and courage – traits he exhibited during his long policing career."

Many mentioned the fact that despite battling the disease for 22 months, Johnston never complained, and remained positive until the end.

"I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to share this journey with him," said Const. Georgina Short, who knew Johnston for 32 years, starting as colleagues and quickly becoming friends.

"Even though he retired in 2014, I still feel his presence at our office. A professional through and through — always positive and upbeat with a kind, gentle and caring heart.

"Our hearts are broken for the loss of our beloved Chief Johnston and while he left this world, we will always carry him with us."

Johnston's wake is being held at Barrett's Funeral Home on Hamilton Avenue. His funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the Anglican Cathedral.

Twitter: @TelyRosie

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