Jack Brian Johnston

Jack Brian Johnston passed away Tuesday, November 8, 2022, from complications associated with Vascular Dementia.  His memory lives on in his wife of 39 years, Sherry Newsome Pulley Johnston, daughter, Kimber Pulley Matzke (Thomas) (Yorktown, VA), son, Jeffrey Scott Pulley (Grace) (Gillette, WY), and grandsons, Jordan Towell (Farmville, VA), Mason Matzke (Lutz, FL) and Gabriel Pulley (Gillette, WY).  

Family was first and foremost in Jack’s heart.  He was the brother-in-law to Bob and Holly Newsome (Billings, MT), Craig and Pam Little (Yorktown, VA), Grant and Donna Owens (Yorktown, VA), and Jodi King (Yorktown, VA). He was the uncle to Carrie Long (Chris) (Williston, VT), Diane Trono (Paul) (St. Albans, VT), Robin Sumner (Emily Gidney) (Burlington, VT), Eileen Marrier (Ron) (Burlington, VT), Lenny Sumner (April) (Las Vegas, NV), Jill Sarsfield (Mark) (Belton, MO), Coulter Little (Springfield, VA), Jennifer Quanbeck (Ben) (Billings, MT), Bennett Newsome (Alycia) (Oviedo, FL) Ashby Owens (Norfolk, VA), Brittany Owens (Zach) (Norfolk, VA), Spencer Owens (Yorktown, VA), (Zachary Owens) (Our Heavenly Angel), Katie King (Millis, MA), Michael King (Newport News, VA), and Molly King (Greenville, NC).

Jack was born in Montreal, Canada, and was the youngest of eight.  He moved to Burlington, Vermont at a young age where he spent his days in Catholic school.  He used to say that his knuckles were like leather as he was reprimanded with rulers by the nuns.  He had lost both his parents by the time he was a young teen.  Jack spent his later adolescent years in Pasadena, California living with his older sister and her husband. He finally settled in Virginia where he earned his United States citizenship on September 7, 1977.

Jack worked in different capacities as a gas station attendant at Cherry’s Esso and as a furniture salesman at Sears and Roebuck.  It was his compassion for helping others that drew him to become a firefighter.  He joined the York County Fire Department working his way up to Captain.  He retired as a firefighter in 2000 having spent 22 years serving the community members of York County.  His legacy, however, lies within Johnston’s Chimney Sweep.  In February 1979, he had a beat-up pickup truck, a toolbox, and the white pages going door to door to offer his chimney cleaning services.  For 41 years, Jack owned and operated his business meeting thousands of people.  He was most proud of being able to service the hundreds of fireplaces and chimney flues within the houses, restaurants, hotels, and taverns of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.  

Sadly, Jack was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia in January 2020.  He spent the last three months of his life as a resident at Harmony on the Peninsula. The comfort, care, and compassion the staff at Harmony provided Jack was profound. Thank you for everything you did to make Jack’s life meaningful in his last month on earth.  

Jack had four great loves; his wife, his family, the New York Yankees, and his three Great Danes. His Brandywine neighborhood friends were a big part of his life and were there visiting him until the very end.  His best buddy, nephew Spencer Owens, had a special place in Jack’s heart.  He taught him compassion, patience, and what it meant to love someone who is unlike anyone else. Spencer will never truly understand the impact he had on his Uncle Jack and how much Uncle Jack loved him and cherished his “Best Buddy”.  He was a friend to everyone and a stranger to no one.

Family will receive friends on Thursday, November 17, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. at Peninsula Funeral Home.

A funeral service will be held on Friday, November 18 at 1:00 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church.   Burial will take place at a later date.

Arrangements are under the care of Peninsula Funeral Home, 11144 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, VA 23601.



  1. John Tyson

    Sherry, Jack was a mentor to me and stood beside me many times addressing faults to make me a better person. I had often thought of him and the opportunities you provided me and support that was always there. You and Jack always made me feel welcome and part of your family. As i know he is in a better place now it will not take away the pain of his absence. He did so much and asked for so little. My heart breaks as I heard the news. God Speed my friend and until we meet again.

  2. Joyce Brannis

    Jack was such a happy person! He was a joy to be around and he made this world a happier place! He will always be remembered and his memory will brighten our days!

  3. Sean Segerblom

    Sherry, Kimber, Jeff, and family, I offer my condolences to you following Jack’s passing. He was a special person; I really enjoyed working with and beside him. I have many fond memories of Jack’s good nature and sense of humor. Most importantly, I am grateful for his guidance, wisdom, and compassion. He helped make me the man I am today. My thoughts and prayers are with you. -Boomer (Jack was a big part of my nickname).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *