Clovis contractor Floyd Johnston dies in plane crash
Floyd Johnston, the owner of a pipeline construction company that bears his name, was a determined but fun-loving man who enjoyed hard work and hard play.
Mr. Johnston, 72, died Sunday when the plane he was flying crashed in the foothills of Kern County southeast of Porterville as he returned from a weekend of riding motorcycles in Imperial, a few miles north of the California-Mexico border. Also killed was one of his employees, Jacob Curiel, 28, who lived in Imperial.
James Floyd Johnston — who hardly ever used his first name — began his career in underground pipeline construction working for a contractor in Stanislaus County as a teenager, according to a 2010 company biography. He and his wife, Evelyn, founded Floyd Johnston Construction in 1969 and incorporated the company in 1972.
Daughter Karen Johnston said her parents met and married in Modesto and relocated to Clovis to start their company.
Over the years, they built it into a well-regarded firm specializing in building underground concrete pipelines for storm drains, sewers and water mains.
The company has done work across California, and employs about 55 people, Karen Johnston said.
Mr. Johnston “was the most determined man I ever knew in my life,” his daughter said Tuesday. “When he set his mind to something, it was going to happen. For him, failures were just another challenge.”
An American flag hung at half-staff Tuesday at the company’s headquarters on Herndon Avenue near Tollhouse Road, and flowers arrived throughout the afternoon to express condolences for Mr. Johnston’s death.
Karen Johnston said her father “lived a large life, and believed in filling it with as much excitement as he could.”
He enjoyed flying, and got his pilot’s license about 15 years ago. He owned three different airplanes over the years, and had owned his six-seat, single-engine 1968 Beechcraft Bonanza V35A for about 14 years. He also liked cooking, riding motorcycles and vintage cars.
“The only thing that was 72 about him was the number of years he was on the planet,” she added. “He’d still jump down into a ditch or climb up onto a piece of equipment.”
Company representatives say the firm will continue despite the founder’s death.
“Floyd was a very clever person, he knew how to find very talented people to fill in for weaknesses of his own and to delegate work,” Karen Johnston said. “He had a lot of talented people working for him” to keep things going.
James Floyd Johnston
Born: Nov. 9, 1940
Died: Jan. 6, 2013
Survivors: Wife of 48 years, Evelyn; mother, Sara Walker of Clovis; son, Floyd Johnston Jr. of Temecula; daughters Karen Johnston of Clovis and Sharon Johnston of Fresno; four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Occupation: Owner, Floyd Johnston Construction
Services:A funeral date will not be set until remains are released by the Kern County coroner, but Karen Johnston said the family anticipates a graveside service sometime next week at Clovis Cemetery.
By Tim Sheehan