A former state legislator and Public Service Commission chairman who was also an advocate for the homeless has been identified as the man who died Wednesday while jogging in downtown Little Rock.
A witness told authorities that Robert Johnston, 77, collapsed and died while jogging on Broadway near West Charles Bussey Avenue, according to a police report. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Johnston founded the Feed the Hungry breakfast program for the homeless and was a past recipient of the Peace Activist of the Year Award from the Arkansas Coalition for Peace and justice.
Johnston, a Pine Bluff native, was a Rhodes Scholar in 1963 after graduating from Rice University in Houston, where he was an All-Southwest Conference tackle and a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete. After signing with the Dallas Cowboys, Johnston accepted a Rhodes Scholarship and left football to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree at Oxford University in economics, politics and philosophy. He later earned his doctorate in political science and economics at Columbia University.
Johnston was the 1962 recipient of Rice’s Bob Quin Award as the most outstanding all-around senior male athlete at the university. While at Oxford, Johnston lettered in basketball and rowing and also played on the college rugby team.
Johnston was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives for eight years before being appointed state Public Service Commission chairman under Gov. Bill Clinton, serving six years. He later served as a national and international consultant abroad. He also taught political science at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, for 13 years and was an instructor at West Point Military Academy for three years.
Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.