Joseph James Johnston Jr. passed away on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, at the age of 76. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, one of two children of Joseph and Anne. Joe was an avid athlete growing up and was an All State baseball and basketball athlete at St. Procopius College and Academy. He attended Western Illinois on an athletic scholarship for both baseball and basketball and graduated with a degree in Business and Journalism. He was President of the Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity and President of the Inter-Fraternity Council. Joe served in the U.S. Army on active duty from 1968 to 1970 and served in 3rd Infantry Division Headquarters in Wurzburg, Germany. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal. After starting his career with Shell Oil in Chicago, Joe worked directly with the Colonel at Kentucky Fried Chicken as he developed a successful career of maximizing real estate deals and creative packaging strategies in the restaurant industry. He co-operated the Chi Chi’s Mexican Restaurants chain across the globe. In Oklahoma City his various restaurants concepts included Gators, The Ground Floor Café, The Ice House, Joe Kelly’s, Kansas City Blues BBQ, The Lunch Box, The Magnolia Café, Mamacita’s, and Two Pesos. He was instrumental in the development of the Bricktown Entertainment District where he opened The Baja/The Butte. In his second career as CEO of Catalyst Behavioral Services he transformed the company into the second largest substance abuse provider in the state of Oklahoma. Joe’s legacy was his nature to mentor people in his life and to find an angle to give them a leg up. He was a gregarious person who always wore a smile and had a glint in his eye for the next big deal. Joe is survived by his wife of twenty years Nicki Johnston; his children Jennifer Swales, Michael Johnston and wife Lacy, and Colton Hicks; and grandchildren Mackenzie Johnston and Bruce Shelton; his sister Mary Sterling and her husband David, nephews Tim & Laura Sterling and Tom Sterling.
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