Cover photo for David Lee Johnston's Obituary
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1930 David 2023

David Lee Johnston

June 11, 1930 — December 10, 2023

San Diego

David Lee Johnston, affectionately known as Dave, passed away on December 10, 2023, at his home in San Diego, CA. He was born on June 11, 1930, in Springfield, Illinois. Dave lived a remarkable life filled with dedication, joy, and meaningful connections.

Dave's thirst for knowledge led him to pursue higher education after graduating from Barnesville High School in Ohio in 1949. Eager to embark on a career path that would allow him to explore his passion for electronics, he enrolled in the American Television Institute of Technology in Chicago to become a TV service technician. In 1955, Dave's commitment and hard work paid off when he obtained a B.S. degree in Television Engineering.

With his degree in hand, Dave began his professional journey at General Dynamics Convair in San Diego. He joined the company as a Junior Engineer and quickly made significant contributions within the electronic test lab. Dave's remarkable skills landed him a role within the mass properties group. He dedicated himself to this division until his retirement in 1992 after an impressive tenure of over three decades.

While working at Convair brought immense fulfillment to Dave's life, he always found ways to nurture his entrepreneurial spirit with the unwavering support of his beloved wife Helen and the assistance of his younger brother Ernie. In 1977, they ventured into the world of retail by opening Toys, Etc., a toy store that quickly became a cornerstone within the community. Their success knew no bounds as they expanded their business to multiple locations including Mira Mesa, La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Poway, and UTC (University Town Center). Toys Etc. thrived as a family enterprise that employed loved ones and close friends until its closure on December 31, 2012.

Besides his professional accomplishments and entrepreneurial pursuits, Dave had an unwavering love for sports and family. Serving as a Coach for all three of his children, he shared his expertise and passion for baseball and softball with countless young athletes, leaving an indelible positive impact. Dave and Helen attended every sporting event, academic activity, and other important milestones in their children's lives. Together, they fostered a sense of adventure by embarking on monthly camping trips and memorable cross-country journeys.

Dave's sense of humor was legendary—his wit resonated with warmth and joy. He embraced life with unwavering principles of hard work, kindness, patience, and selflessness. Always leading by example, Dave exemplified what it meant to be a dedicated family man. He was the first one to arrive at work, carrying himself with dignity and grace. Taking care of his loved ones was his greatest priority, and he fulfilled this role exceptionally well.

One of Dave's greatest passions outside of work was golf. The game consumed him—he played tirelessly alongside friends, his son David II, and son-in-law Marty until the unfortunate interruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Although he never got the chance to play again afterward, he remained an avid spectator and relished watching golf tournaments on television. But Dave's love for sports extended beyond golf; he cheered passionately for the San Diego Chargers and Padres teams year after year with unwavering loyalty. His signature line at the end of each season was always "wait until next year," displaying his eternal optimism. This fervor for sports has been effortlessly passed down to his children who continue to be ardent fans today.

Dave possessed an innate talent for craftsmanship—a skill that revealed itself in many ways. Notably, he built exquisite dollhouses for both toy store customers and his great-granddaughters alike. He meticulously assembled countless toys while lending his tinkering expertise whenever something needed repair or adjustment. Another favorite pastime of Dave's was solving jigsaw puzzles—an activity that occupied much time at the dining room table, interspersed with the countless books he devoured.

Dave's passing was calm and peaceful, surrounded by the love of his cherished family. He leaves behind a rich legacy and a void that will be deeply felt. Dave is survived by his loving wife Helen, his children Mary Schoepp, David Johnston II, Susan Quisenberry, and their respective spouses Chuck Schoepp, Toniann Johnston, and Marty Quisenberry. He was adored by his grandchildren Nicole Schreiber (Chris), Cory Ottosen, Andrew Schoepp (Shaina), Kellie Morten (Seth), Christina Verdugo (Kyler), Natalie Spears, and great-grandchildren Brayden Schreiber, Graysen Schreiber, Emma Schreiber, Paislee Verdugo, Kennedy Morten, Hudson Schoepp, Nolan Morten as well as numerous nieces and nephews.  Dave joins his family members in heaven including his father Ernest Franklin Johnston Sr., Mother Jewell Smiley Johnston, brother Robert S. Johnston, and brother Ernest F. Johnston Jr.


A Graveside Service to celebrate Dave's life will be held on January 19, 2024, at 1:30 PM at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego. The address is 5795 Nobel Dr., San Diego, CA 92122.

Dave will be remembered as a remarkable individual who lived life to the fullest. His wit, dedication to family and work, and his sense of humor will forever remain an echo of his vibrant spirit within the hearts of all those fortunate enough to have shared in his journey. May his soul find eternal peace as we carry forward the values he instilled in us with pride and gratitude.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of David Lee Johnston, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Friday, January 19, 2024

1:30 - 2:00 pm (Pacific time)

Miramar National Cemetery

5795 Nobel Dr, San Diego, CA 92122

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