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Published: Wednesday, 8/10/2005

Store owner enjoyed socializing

PULASKI, Ohio - Carlton D. "Jack" Johnston, 97, who owned and operated the Pulaski General Store for more than 30 years, died Monday at the Inn at Fountain Park, Bryan, of complications from Parkinson's disease.

Mr. Johnston was a hard worker who enjoyed talking with his customers, his daughter, Barbara Eschhofen, said.

In 1938, Mr. Johnston bought the old store with a pot-bellied stove in the middle of it. "He and mom cleaned it up and tried to modernize it," his daughter said.

When it first opened, the store carried everything from groceries to nails to thread, and Mr. Johnston set up a room in the back of the store for the men who came by to "sit around and chew the fat," his daughter said.

In 1946, Mr. Johnston added a frozen food locker and began processing meat. His daughter said customers bought a quarter or a side of beef and had Mr. Johnston cut it up, package it, and freeze it. The customers could rent lockers to store the meat instead of taking it home.

Mr. Johnston and his wife put in long hours at the store, which was open seven days a week until 10 p.m. in the early years. "He worked hard at that and the locker, and he and mom had a fairly good income," Mrs. Eschhofen said.

All the children worked in the store, and Mr. Johnston also employed many high school students over the years, she said.

By the time he retired and sold the store in 1972, it focused on groceries.

After retiring, Mr. Johnston took meals from Bryan High School to the elementary schools.

Born in Illinois, Mr. Johnston moved to Ohio with his family as a baby. He graduated from Edgerton, Ohio High School in 1927 and married the former V. Hope Farnham in 1929.

An avid vegetable gardener, he grew sweet corn, beans, lettuce, and tomatoes. He enjoyed chopping wood on the small farm he had near Edgerton.

He was a member of Pulaski United Methodist Church.

Surviving are his wife, V. Hope Johnston; daughters, Barbara Eschhofen and Mary Hovis; son, Carl W. Johnston; sister, Delle Knisely; eight grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Krill Funeral Home, Bryan, after 2 p.m. tomorrow. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday in Pulaski United Methodist Church after an hour-long visitation there.

The family suggests tributes to the Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers' hospice care or the church.

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