Gaylord “Rusty" Johnson III
Gaylord “Rusty" Johnson III died on May 28 at his home in Skillman after living with pancreatic cancer for two years. He was 56.
He was surrounded by his family and his brothers, and was regularly visited by dear friends and neighbors whose generosity and kindness during the past two years was truly remarkable. The family is deeply comforted by the knowledge of how many lives Rusty touched in such a positive way. Rusty was born in Houston, Texas on August 31, 1963 and graduated from Kinkaid High School in 1982. He received a bachelor's degree in Economics from Washington & Lee University in 1986. He remained very close to his classmates through his life, especially his Kappa Alpha brothers.
Rusty spent his senior year of college studying in Taiwan, which led to six years of working in Hong Kong as a sell-side equity analyst, two years in Bangkok, Thailand, a year in New York City, and finally in 1994, a move to Harding Loevner Management in Somerville, where he was a partner until he died. Rusty joined Harding Loevner as one of the original portfolio managers on their emerging market strategy and remained in that role until 2018. His impact went beyond investment expertise; his passion for his work and his commitment to excellence helped create the strong corporate culture of which he was so proud. Rusty is survived by his wife of 23 years, René McCurry Johnson and his two daughters: Samantha Kate, 20, a junior at Washington & Lee, and Caroline Alys, 16, a junior at the Peddie School.
Rusty is also survived by his mother, Helen Morgan Johnson of Denver, Colorado; his step-mother, Pamela Barber Johnson of Pearland Texas; his brother Thomas Morgan Johnson (Gina, Thomas and Eric) of Houston, Texas; his brother Douglas Paton Johnson (Christin, Davis and Clayton) of Lakewood, Colorado; his aunt Gail Serrell of Houston, Texas; his uncle Joe Morgan (Carol, Colleen, Katie) of Lakewood, Colorado; and his in-laws William and Kathy McCurry of Rocky Hill, and Jim McCurry (Brenda, Aidan and Blythe) of Isle of Palms, South Carolina. Rusty was predeceased by his father, Gaylord Johnson, Jr. Rusty was dearly loved by his friends and neighbors — particularly his neighborhood "brothers" on Van Zandt Road, and his fishing, hunting, tennis, and ice hockey friends in Houston, Princeton, and Wellington, Florida. He was an avid fisherman who loved to fish for everything from small crappies behind his house in Florida, to big marlin in Cabo. Rusty loved to play tennis, was known for a wicked, unreturnable serve, and became an avid golfer in his later years. Rusty lived his entire life at “show pace.” Never one to waste time or sit still, he loved to putter in the garden with his plants and bird feeders, fritter in the house (i.e. throw out things belonging to his wife and daughters), and his favorite birthday gift was always a dumpster in the driveway. Rusty loved hanging out with friends, grilling in the backyard or grabbing a beer at the Tiger's Tale. He absolutely hated fancy food, particularly small portions. Rusty loved to travel and firmly believed in the transformative power of travel for young people. To that end, Rusty started a scholarship at Washington & Lee to fund summer study abroad programs, with a focus on non-traditional destinations. Rusty loved animals, and will be greatly missed by his two dogs, four cats, and a herd of horses he could never exactly tell apart. Rusty was incredibly proud of his daughters, and loved to watch them compete in show jumping or field hockey (Sam) or basketball and field hockey (Caroline) and was thrilled to introduce both girls to scuba diving. Rusty hated cold water and cold weather. And, until the very end, he had absolutely appalling taste in both music and movies. He was widely known for his "Rusty-isms," his fantastic sense of humor, and his warm heart. In his memory, the family asks that you gather your friends and family, pop a cold Coors Lite or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, put your feet up by an outdoor fire (preferably an excessively smokey one, built with random objects the fire department would prefer you not burn), and tell tall tales of fishing exploits or exotic street meals from far flung lands. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider donating to HomeFront (1880 Princeton Avenue, Lawrence Township, New Jersey 08648) an organization Rusty and René have long supported, or the Rusty Johnson '86 Endowment for Study Abroad at Washington & Lee (c/o William Greer, Development Office, Lexington VA 24450), or the Basser Center for BRCA at Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center (https://www.basser.org/events-giving/make-gift).
Arrangements are under the direction of The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.