Frank Johnstone, age 88, departed this life on Monday, July 3, 2023, surrounded by family and loved ones at Hospice of the Piedmont in Charlottesville, Virginia. Frank was born in Somerville, Massachusetts, to Francis Johnstone and Doris Irene Lent. Frank later moved to coastal Maine where he graduated from Rockport High School in 1952. He went on to marry his high school sweetheart, Phyllis Simonton, in 1953. Together they raised a son, Butch, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Susan. Frank's life was devoted to his family and community service.
Frank enlisted in the US Merchant Marines after high school and then worked in the wholesale hardware business. In 1957, he began a long career in law enforcement when he joined the Maine State Police. Frank's desire for higher education led to a move to Utah with Phyllis and their three young children in 1960. While attending Brigham Young University, Frank worked full time as a campus police officer and taught Political Science and International Relations at the University while obtaining both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In 1968, the family moved to Charlottesville, Virginia so that Frank could pursue a PhD at the University of Virginia. Ultimately, however, Frank decided that research and writing was not as fulfilling as service in criminal justice, and he worked as a juvenile probation officer with the 8th District Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court as well as in the Commonwealth of Virginia's Division of Justice and Crime Prevention (now Department of Criminal Justice Services or DCJS).
In 1972, then Charlottesville Police Chief John deKoven Bowen offered Frank the position of administrative assistant, which Frank held until becoming the Director of the University of Virginia Police Department in 1977. In 1984, Frank became the first Chief of the newly formed Albemarle County Police Department, serving until 1989. Frank was noted for encouraging the hiring and promotion of women and minorities in law enforcement, because he understood that police departments should reflect the diversity of the community which they serve. Frank was truly a visionary in the law enforcement community, and he participated in the development and implementation of programs such as community policing, D.A.R.E, School Resource Officer, Sexual Assault Resource, and Victim Witness that were replicated throughout the state. Frank taught criminal justice courses at Piedmont Virginia Community College for many years. Chiefs Bowen and Johnstone undertook the difficult task of modernizing law enforcement in the Charlottesville-Albemarle community, expanding access and accountability to groups that had long been ignored and treating everyone with the same personal dignity regardless of their station in life. Attempting to accomplish this while maintaining law and order was (is) not a popular undertaking, and the Chiefs encountered as much resistance as they did support. Their greatest success was in recruiting and mentoring both men and women in local law enforcement who would continue their vision of a more fair and just community.
In 1989, Frank returned to DCJS, serving as Assistant Bureau Director and Manager of the Crime Prevention Center. The Center was instrumental in developing standards and certification for crime prevention through environmental design and crime data analysis. In November, 1999, Frank was honored with the National Award of Excellence “in recognition of extraordinary contributions to preventing crime.” The exact date of Frank's retirement became a running joke at DCJS, as he continued to consult with program development and legislation long after his official retirement date.
During Frank's long career in law enforcement, he served in leadership roles in numerous organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Virginia Association of Campus Police Chiefs. Frank and his wife Phyllis were avid supporters of the Special Olympics, UVA Women's Basketball, and Meals on Wheels. While in Utah, Frank was a member of the Mountain Rescue Team and began his long service to Scouting as a merit badge counselor and assistant and advisor to various local packs, troops, and posts. In retirement, he served his local community as a member of the Fluvanna County Sheriff's Office Executive Staff and the Fluvanna Transportation Safety Commission. Following retirement, Frank and Phyllis spent most summers and falls in Maine close to their Simonton family. There Frank served on the homeowners association board for a number of years and where both faithfully attended West Rockport Baptist Church.
Throughout his adult life, Frank has always had a strong religious faith and served in leadership roles in several congregations. Until his passing, he served as an Elder in the Lake Christian Church, where he also taught adult bible classes.
When not spending time with family, Frank's favorite activities included reading, sports, and the outdoors. Frank read widely on a variety of topics including history, religion, philosophy, and politics. He was a lifelong Red Sox fan and supported BYU and UVA sports teams. Outdoors he enjoyed camping, hiking, swimming, running, and mountain climbing with his sister Priscilla.
“Love and Laughter” has long been the family motto and “Pappy” (a moniker assigned by Frank's grandchildren) leaves a large and laughing family, including his sister Priscilla (Joan); Phyllis, his wife of 70 years, son Butch (Kristen Konrad), daughters Elizabeth (Jonathan Tross) and Susan (Rick Heflebower); grandchildren Adrienne, Meghann, Kirin, and Ian Johnstone; Lindsey, Jessica, Daisy, Mary, Andrew, Ezra, Kathryn, and Devon Tross; Joel, Jeny, Kary, and Kyle Heflebower; and twenty-seven great grandchildren.
The family extends great thanks to the excellent medical care teams at University of Virginia Hospital Department of Neurology (especially Drs. Bhole, Provencio, and Southerland), the Nerancy Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit, the stepdown units, and the kind and caring staff of Hospice of the Piedmont. Your expertise, kindness, and understanding were comforts to our family during a time of great sadness.
A celebration of life will be held at the Lake Christian Church, 733 S. Boston Rd., Palmyra, VA on August 5th, 2023 at 4:00 pm.
In lieu of flowers please consider a gift in support of the VA Association of Chiefs of Police and Foundation, Frank Johnstone Memorial Fund for Women in Law Enforcement.