COOPERSTOWN – Dr. Cory Johnston died unexpectedly in a skiing accident on the higher elevations of Mount Hood on Feb. 25. It was his 47th birthday.
Survivors include his parents, Waldo and Caroline Johnston, Cooperstown.
Born in Colorado Springs in 1973, Cory grew up in the mountains of Colorado where he inherited a love of the outdoors from his parents, Waldo and Candy, and his older sister, Crickett. It was amongst these mantled peaks that he first learned to ski, merrily tumbling down most of the runs at Copper Mountain, Crested Butte, and pretty much any slope with snow on it.
That changed when his family moved to North Carolina in 1980 where, with his skiing options sharply curtailed, he developed a passion for other activities: playing hockey with his dad, tennis with his sister, and serving as acolyte and playing the viola with his mom.
While a student at Durham Academy he was elected president of the Senior Class, constructed an epic erupting volcano for the Senior Prom, became North Carolina’s first All-American lacrosse player and, despite some aversion to practicing for the SATs, earned his acceptance to Yale, where he played varsity lacrosse and squeaked across the finish line in 1995 with a degree in American Studies.
Following graduation Cory heeded the call of the West, where he engaged in a baffling assortment of experiments, including waiting on tables in San Francisco, filming documentaries in Whistler, selling climbing gear at REI in Salt Lake City, and painting houses. Eventually, he joined the ski patrol at Brighton, where everything changed one night when he and his colleagues tried to save the life of a young skier who had sustained a fatal injury. The very next day he called his parents to say that he wanted to be a doctor.
“It can’t be done,” they told him. “You didn’t even pass Physics for Dummies.” But they were wrong. Discovering an intense focus that even his family hadn’t seen, Cory completed medical school at the University of Pittsburgh followed by a six-year surgical residency at The University of Utah, where he was awarded the surgical mentorship and teaching prize and a hepatobiliary fellowship at the Providence Portland Cancer center. There he was watchfully mentored by Dr. Pippa Newell, who later agreed to marry him.
The couple moved to Hood River, Ore., where Cory became a surgeon at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, earning the trust, love, and respect of his colleagues and the community through his passion for the welfare of his patients, his dedication to his practice, and his tireless effort to inspire his colleagues.
Cory found immeasurable happiness raising his sons Rocky and Bode alongside Pippa as they brought fun and love into their home and ventured out for all manner of activities: rafting on the Gorge, hiking, biking, and, of course, skiing.
As he had done as a young man, Cory found the wilderness a source of wonder, especially treasuring the Mount Hood glaciers and slopes where he last snapped on his skis. As mountains shaped much of Cory’s life, they also, in a way understood only by God, decided to take it away. We ask for the wisdom to see His plan.
Cory’s immediate survivors include his wife Pippa, his sons Rocky and Bode, his parents Waldo and Caroline, and his sister Crickett.
Cory, we love you and thank you for the many epic turns.
There will be a burial service, followed by a celebration of Cory’s life, in Hood River, Oregon, on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8. Contributions in Cory’s memory may be sent to a college fund for the boys, care of Anderson’s Tribute Center, 1401 Belmont Avenue, Hood River, OR 97031.