JOHNSTON, WILMA RUTH HOLMAN (1919 ~ 1999). Wilma Ruth Holman Johnston was born in Cochise County, Arizona, on March 18, 1919, on the homestead of her father William R. Holman and his wife Mattie Queen Holman. Wilma Ruth Johnston graduated from Fort Stockton, Texas High School in 1936. In her senior year, Wilma worked in the school's library, the National Youth Administration, thus beginning her work career while still in school. Later she attended business college in San Angelo, Texas, working as a live-in nanny to pay her way in college. Her parents were poor farmers who depended on irrigation from Comanche Springs, which was later depleted by deep wells drilled by rich ranchers for stock and pecan orchards. Wilma then worked as a legal secretary for Ft. Stockton attorneys, later finding better work as Executive Secretary at Humble Oil and Refining Co. in Midland.
After Pearl Harbor and U.S. entry into World War II, Wilma joined the U.S. Navy WAVE. Inducted in early 1943 she was assigned as personal secretary to a Naval Captain at the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Washington, D. C. She attained the rank of yeoman first class, and expected promotion to Chief Petty Officer at the time when the war reached its end in 1945. Wilma was very proud of her wartime service, and kept news clips, documents and numerous photographs of her service. Near the end of the war, she inquired about overseas service, but remained in the nations capital and was mustered out in early 1946.
She entered the University of Texas in early 1948 with majors in Journalism and Sociology. At UT, she met her future husband, Dean, and they were married on September 4, 1949. Wilma worked in employee relations and photography at Humble Houston Headquarters, becoming editor of a company publication, "The Humble Club Bulletin." She resigned in 1956 to become the devoted mother to her son, Travis Dean Johnston. She worked for about a year for the publisher of the Texas Observer, Mrs. R. D. Randolph, then moved to Austin with her husband where he began service in the Texas Legislature. After that unpaid political detour, Wilma was secretary to the Harris County Psychiatric hospital in Houston.
In 1962, at the age of 44, she enrolled at the University of Houston to earn her teachers certificate to follow her first academic desire to teach Journalism. She taught Sociology and sponsored school newspapers and yearbooks at Galena Park, Lee, and Sterling High Schools in the Houston area. She was much loved by her students and colleagues. After her retirement, she took her older sister, Sadie, into her home, four years after she suffered a stroke and had no other help.
Early into her 70th year, Wilma survived a broken hip, treatment for depression, and residency in a nursing home. After she came home, again she survived breast cancer, a mastectomy, and the onset of Alzheimer's disease. In and out of hospitals and nursing homes for nearly nine years, she succumbed to Alzheimer's relentless destruction on June 26, 1999. She was laid to rest at the Texas State Cemetery.