Abner Johnston is a planner, and he's always been a planner. Never was this more apparent than when he secretly toured all the MIAC colleges, in preparation for his eldest son Tim's college selection process. He took copious notes as he made a concerted effort to discover which school would best offer an environment that aligned with his values around intellectual development and spiritual growth. With a personal bias toward a Catholic institution of higher education, Abner quickly narrowed the field to two, and Saint John's University was on his list.
It was then that Abner's planning gene kicked into overdrive. During the summer of 1975 he registered Tim for one week of Fr. Otto Weber's highly-respected Leadership Camp in Collegeville. There, like hundreds of fellow campers through the years, Tim had a wonderful experience. He was taken with the campus and its 3,600 acres of trail-filled woods and pristine lakes; and as they made the post-camp drive home to the Twin Cities, Tim enthusiastically shared with his father highlights from the week. Then he asked: "Dad, do you think I could apply to Saint John's for college?" Abner's planning had paid off -- for Tim '80, for Dave '82, for Tom '83 and for Stephen! Father knows best!
Like most new Johnnies Tim quickly fell into the college student routine. In his classes and extra-curricular activities Tim found himself building strong friendships, and he received helpful guidance from members of the faculty and staff. Living in community with members of the Abbey gave him the opportunity to learn about and apply centuries-old Benedictine values. To this day Tim works hard to "listen with the ear of his heart" and is known for his gracious Benedictine hospitality.
Two people in particular played critical roles in shaping Tim's journey as a student and beyond. It was basketball coach Jim Smith who assisted Tim in landing a student teaching job at St. Cloud Apollo High School. A dearth of teaching opportunities followed, which helps explain Tim's shift into a successful career in the financial services industry. Then there was University chaplain Fr. Don Talafous' best efforts to persuade Tim to ditch his "hometown honey." Fr. Don eventually concelebrated at Tim and Terry's wedding in 1979. Children followed, and today sons Tim '04 and Mike '08 are also proud Johnnies.
Tim and his family have sought to repay Saint John's for the many blessings they have received, and Tim and Terry have made generous donations to The Fr. Don Talafous OSB Endowed Scholarship Fund. They've also made an estate gift to establish a new endowed scholarship in support of First Generation students -- those who are the first in their families to attend college. In naming this fund The Abner L. and Pasqualine Johnston First Gen Endowed Scholarship, Tim chose to honor his parents for all their loving sacrifices.
While it's unlikely that Abner ever planned to have a scholarship named after him, he is thrilled that Terry and Tim's generosity will assist future generations of Johnnies in realizing their dreams. Father knows best.
[Editor's note: Today Tim and Terry live in Carmel, IN. Pictured above, from left to right, are Terry Johnston, Pasqualine "Pat" Johnston, Abner Johnston, and Tim Johnston '80.]