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IU Northwest mourns the loss of professor emeritus Barrance Johnston

Sociology professor Johnston had retired after 34 years of service

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Professor Emeritus of Sociology Barry Johnston, Ph.D.

Indiana University Northwest regretfully announced this week the passing of Professor Emeritus of Sociology Barrance “Barry” Johnston, Ph.D., 69, of Laporte. Johnston passed away Saturday, Nov. 5.

Having retired in recent years, Johnston served the campus for 34 years and left a lasting impact on his colleagues and students alike.

Visitation is scheduled from 2 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 9 at Burns Funeral Home in Crown Point with a prayer service scheduled at 7:30 p.m.  Funeral services will take place at 10 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 10 at Sacred Heart Mission, 411 W. 11th St., Michigan City. Cremation will precede the funeral service. Contributions may be made to Catholic Charities or a charity of your choice.

“A lot of people lose sight of the importance of being a good mentor and Barry was one of the best I ever had,” said Professor of Sociology Charles Gallmeier, Ph.D.

For over a decade or more, Gallmeier and Johnston took frequent road trips to meetings of the North Central Sociological Association, an experience which made the two good friends. Gallmeier appreciated the effort Johnston made during those trips to help him establish himself in the discipline and cultivate a network of contacts to help him in his career.

“Even after he retired,” Gallmeier said, “the trips to NCSA were never quite the same for me.”

Johnston was a prolific researcher, having published well over 100 articles and three books. One of those books, “Pitirim A. Sorokin: An Intellectual Biography,” Gallmeier described as a highly significant work, one which garnered much recognition and many awards.

“I remember when that book was published,” said long-time colleague and Professor of Health Information Management Margaret Skurka. “It brought much acclaim to IU Northwest.”

One of only a few IU Northwest faculty members to be named a Fulbright Scholar, Johnston traveled extensively, including a stint teaching in Russia.

Despite his widespread recognition, Gallmeier said Johnston was a humble man, shrugging off such high-profile associations as the fact that he had “one of the single most influential sociologists in America in the 20th century,” as Gallmeier put it, on his list of personal references.

That’s right, Gallmeier said, the one and only Robert K. Merton, an icon in sociology circles, was impressed with Johnston’s work, his writing inscribed on the inside covers of Johnston’s books.

Gallmeier said Johnston had quite a reputation for the intimidating rigor of his social theory capstone course – “the gut-check course” as Gallmeier called it. Students who earned high marks in the dreaded class puffed out their chests in pride, having emerged victoriously from the sociologists’ rite of passage. Johnston would simply chuckle, proud of the high standard of the course and how well it prepared students for graduate school.

Skurka agreed Johnston and his course had quite a reputation.

“He was respected in the sociology department for not being easy,” she said. “He was demanding for the student in a positive way.”

Skurka added that Johnston was very engaged in the life of the campus through the years.

Johnston was born in New York and raised in Texas. He was an avid runner, having collected many medals from the Chicago Marathon. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend.

During his tenure at IU Northwest he was appointed as a one-year Chancellor's Fellow at Indiana University. He had served for a time as president of the faculty organization.

Johnston is survived by his wife, Lisa DeCaro of Laporte; his children, Capt. Blake (Emily) Johnston of the U.S. Marine Corps; First Lt. Ian Johnston of the U.S. Marine Corps; Caitlin Johnston of Maryland, and Casey Johnston, who resides with his mother; brother, Wayne (Barbara) Guilladeu of Houston,  and sister, Laura (Mike) Hochstetler of Florida.

IU Northwest extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Professor Emeritus Barry Johnston.


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