Craig Johnston

  • Born: November 8, 1969
  • Died: March 14, 2018
  • Location: Manchester, New Hampshire

Phaneuf Funeral Homes & Crematorium - Hanover Street

243 Hanover Street
Manchester, NH 03104
Tel. (603) 625-5777

Tribute & Message From The Family

Craig Michael Johnston, 48, of Manchester, NH, passed away unexpectedly in his home on March 14, 2018. He was born in Boston, MA on November 8, 1969.

He graduated from Manchester Memorial High School in 1987, and received his Associates Degree from New Hampshire Technical Community College. He worked as a Physical Scientist at the US Department of Interior.

He loved the water, and his favorite hobby was building model US Warships.

He leaves behind his father Ronald and his wife Donna Johnston of Dedham, MA; his mother Simonne and her husband Joseph Grimard of Weare, NH; step brothers Joseph Grimard III of Derry, NH, and Dan Stevens of Dedham, MA; sisters Jodee Volpe of Manchester, NH, and Karen Shepard of Candia, NH; as well as several uncles, aunts, and cousins.

SERVICES: A gathering will be held at Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium located at 243 Hanover St. Manchester, NH 03104 on Thursday March 22, 2018 from 12-1 PM. A memorial service will follow at 1 PM. Friends and family are invited to attend.


Condolence & Memory Journal


I cannot believe it has been a year. Still missing you.

Posted by Janice Riley - Farmington, NH - family   March 14, 2019

So sorry for your sudden loss. I knew him from work and always enjoyed talking with him and listening to his point of view. He was a delightful presence.

Posted by Ricardo Lopez-Torrijos - Albany, NY   April 09, 2018


So sad to hear of Craig's passing. He was the kindest man I knew, and always had a smile to give. He will be missed. May he rest in peace.

Posted by Tyler Johnson - San Diego, CA   April 06, 2018

Craig's life was full of adventures and he always had an entertaining story to tell. I will remember him as a genuine, interesting, and generous guy. When I moved to New Hampshire for a job at USGS, I shared an office with Craig. He taught me how to write AML programs to automate some of our GIS work, and we developed into great teammates. We shared quite a bit on long drives within New England plus memorable field trips near Denver and San Diego after traveling to conferences. He's always been my GIS partner at the office and I'm sad to think about continuing on without him. Peace be with him and those who knew him.

Posted by Laura Hayes - Pembroke, NH   March 28, 2018


Met Craig from going out many many years ago. He was always cracking jokes and would always put a smile to your face know matter the situation. He was kind to others even though they didn't deserve it very friendly too all. He was one who had a heart and would help you out even if you didn't ask. You will be missed my friend you are now an Angel of God.

Posted by Keith Eastman - Merrimack, NH - Friend   March 26, 2018

I heard of Craig's passing only this evening. He was a casual, hang out with the guys on a Saturday night friend of mine for many years. We had so many laughs together. I hadn't seen him for quite some time and was sad to hear of his passing. We will miss you Craig, aka Marty, Marty! (Only Craig would know the inside joke re that name.) My condolences to his family and close friends, a life taken away much too young.

Posted by Ken Monty - Manchester, NH - Friend   March 25, 2018

To family, friends, and those who were touched by Craig. He will be missed, he was a kind soul who always greeted you with that smile. So sorry for your loss.

Posted by Janice Riley - Farmington, NH   March 22, 2018

To Craig's friends and family, please accept my sincere condolences. Craig was a friend through good and hard times, he inspired others and created a fun atmosphere weather it was time to work or play. Craig took extra care and the time to find the right methods and people for his hobbies and projects and could do anything he set his mind to. There are many examples within his professional work, his model battle ships and vintage hydrostream speed boat were also very fine examples in his personal life.
Craig had his priorities straight in many ways, when he received resources set aside for him for his future, he got an education and a boat. He saw an ad in the paper for a new GIS program at NH Tech in Berlin and signed up. During the government shut down of 95-96, Craig saw opportunity for an uninterrupted introduction and interview. Craig knocked on the door of the USGS Bow, NH office to meet the District Chief, as he was the only one authorized to be on duty. The Chief was convinced that Craig's new GIS skills were essential to the success of the district.
My first of many experiences working with Craig was when the New Hampshire Bedrock aquifer assessment project was falling behind during the summer of 1997. Craig was brought on board to help with orthorectification using an antiquated zoom transfer scope. There were plenty of students at the time that could draw lineaments all day long, but no one could put the features on a map to make them useable. Craig quickly realized the old equipment was holding up the process and developed a digital pilot program working with his college professor in Berlin. The method was a success and one of the first versions of digital orthorectification software and the office's first advanced Microsoft windows computer were purchased. The bedrock project was put back on track thanks to Craig.
I am very sorry to see Craig pass.

Posted by James Degnan - Concord, NH - Friend   March 22, 2018

Dear Uncle Ron Louise and I are so sorry to hear of Craig's passing.I have very fond memories of spending time with him at the Patriot's game.So sorry we can't be there for you at this time but our thoughts and prayers are with you Love Ace and Louise

Posted by A friend   March 22, 2018

I met Craig when surfing in Hampton more than 20 years ago, maybe 1995. We struck up a conversation and the connection was memorable. It was a pleasant surprise when months later he came into the USGS office inquiring about a job. We bonded immediately and he was always a pleasure to work with. I can't recall how many times he helped me at work. We lost a kind and good natured friend. I will miss him.

Posted by Tom Mack - Rye, NH - Coworker   March 22, 2018

To Simonne Grimard, Ron Johnston, and their families,

I am the other half of the duo that shared in many or most of Craig's major USGS accomplishments. We worked well together as a team, because Craig's and my abilities and personalities complemented each other nicely, producing quality work. And we had fun in the process! Both enjoyed each other's sense of humor! Our biggest accomplishment was NHDPlus, where we were 2 of the 6 members of the original multiagency NHDPlus team that created a highly valued resource that is widely used.

Craig came to the USGS with expertise in creating and editing linework for streams and roads for the digitized versions of USGS topographic maps. This was to the great advantage of a USGS project, the New England SPARROW model, which aimed to model nutrient levels in streams throughout New England. Editing and correcting the digital version of the stream network was the essential first step to modeling. After that first step, Craig continued to be integral to the development of watersheds and other input data sets. This led to the great success of the New England SPARROW nutrient models. And that in turn led to the development of a digital stream network data nationwide!

NHDPlus, the hydrologic framework for the US, was partly inspired by the success of the New England SPARROW model, and Craig Johnston became an integral part of the 6-person multi-agency team who developed the National Hydrography Dataset Plus (NHDPlus) for the entire nation. Craig's main involvement was his contributions to the development of a major component of NHDPlus the design, implementation, and automation of the watershed delineation for the Nation. For the creation of the more recently completed NHDPlus Version 2, this meant coauthoring computer scripts that automate the process. NHDPlus is now a highly valued information resource for the entire water resources community, and was made possible by Craig Johnston's major contributions.

Outside USGS we had largely separate interests. However, I did manage to entice Craig into climbing a few mountains with me and my son. And although mountain climbing was not really his thing, Craig was a good sport about it! We climbed the Belknap Mountains, Mt. Passaconaway, Mt. Madison, and Mt. Jefferson. And after his unsuccessful attempts over the years, to reach the summit of Mount Adams, our attempt was successful and he took great pride in that accomplishment!

Regarding recent USGS work, just two weeks ago, Craig and I were finishing up a spinoff project that builds upon and expands an application of NHDPlus by making it more compatible with another national database, the National Watershed Boundary Dataset. Craig and I (mainly Craig) presented the results to a group scattered across the country via computer-telephone-conferencing. After successfully doing this we privately exchanged compliments. We are quite the team! were Craig's very last words to me. Craig will definitely be missed by the remaining half of the duo!

My sincere condolences,

Posted by Richard Moore - Pembroke, NH   March 22, 2018

I am very sad to hear about Craig's passing. I had the opportunity to get to know Craig at MakekItLabs. He had a very warm and friendly way about him that made you feel like you were an important friend even though you had just met. His greeting was with a happy smile, and he always had a few minutes to chat and catch up. He was also happy to share his progress and what he was doing on his model warship that he kept at MakeItLabs (amazing work!). His enthusiasm for history and making sure he got it right and that he honored the people who served was important to him. He was always positive, willing to help on anything and interested and curious in what others at the space were doing. My condolences to his family on his passing. I know he will be missed.

Posted by Bill Schreiber - Litchfield, NH - Friend   March 22, 2018

My deepest condolences to Craig's family and friends. I remember Craig as a fun loving guy who loved the outdoors and loved the work he did. I remember how much he loved to go boating on the river with friends and his ability to make others smile. He will be greatly missed.

Posted by Phil McCall - Elk Grove, CA - Friend   March 21, 2018

My deepest condolences to Craig's family and friends. I remember Craig as a fun loving guy who loved the outdoors and loved the work he did. I remember how much he loved to go boating on the river with friends and his ability to make others smile. He will be greatly missed.

Posted by Phil McCall - Elk Grove, CA - Friend   March 21, 2018

I have known Craig for many years through work, and always respected his professional opinion and ability. I also felt that he was a friend no matter how rarely I might see him, and knew that he had a great spirit about him. I am sorry for his passing and will miss him. My prayers are with him and his family.

Posted by Dave Bjerklie - Woodbury, CT - Coworker   March 21, 2018

I've known Craig for about 20 years. He was always a kind person. So long old friend.

Posted by Davdi Westerdale - Portland, OR - Friend   March 21, 2018

Condolences to all who knew Craig. I will remember Craig not only as a fun-loving and kind person, but also as a thoughtful and innovative scientist who took on projects with zeal. His creativity and his willingness to work with others was visible to all of us. He played a major role in many projects over the years. He always wore a smile and was always willing to talk and to help others. We will miss him greatly along with his sense of humor and his fondness for the ironic.

Posted by Joe Ayotte - Pembroke, NH - Coworker   March 21, 2018

Craig, we will miss you tremendously. You touched our lives as a valuable member of our USGS office, you contributed to so many different projects and studies not only in New Hampshire, but across the Nation and into Canada. Be proud of what you accomplished as a USGS scientist!! As a co-worker, you made us laugh, told us about your many interests and hobbies, and got us to invest in gold and silver...

To Craig's family and friends - our deepest sympathies over your loss. We share your grief and wish you strength and warm memories of Craig during this difficult time.
Keith Robinson, co-worker and friend

Posted by Keith Robinson - Hillsboro, NH - Coworker   March 21, 2018

Craig was an integral member of a small team that created a big thing called the NHDPlus, which has been very influential in the world of hydrology and water quality modeling, and the basis for the National Water Model, which promises to greatly improve the spatial detail of flood warnings, among many other applications. Craig did a lot of the early programming, and contributed a huge amount of work and personal time to the effort. He leaves behind a big hole in our USGS-EPA team. He was a great guy, and we will sorely miss him.

Posted by Al Rea - Boise, ID   March 21, 2018

I am greatly saddened by Craig's passing. I first met Craig in 2000 at a scientific meeting in Austin, TX. A really nice guy who was easy to talk to. He was particularly interested in getting involved in water-quality modeling, and he did so in a big way. He teamed up with Richard Moore at the USGS to produce some very influential studies, two of which deserve special mention: a water-quality model describing the sources and fate of nutrient pollution in New England, and an invaluable contribution to the development of the National Hydrologic Dataset Plus digital stream network - the premiere stream network for the nation that serves as the foundation for numerous hydrologic studies throughout academia and government. His work extended beyond the U.S.; recently, he has been collaborating with water-quality researchers in Canada. I'm sure his USGS colleagues in New Hampshire can relate many more important contributions. I will always remember Craig as someone who could solve complex problems, deliver on his promises, and produce a quality product. He always did this with a remarkably good attitude - just one of the things that made him a great colleague. I hope his family and friends can find some comfort in knowing how much he meant to his professional companions, and how sorely he will be missed.

Posted by Greg Schwarz - Reston, VA - Coworker   March 21, 2018

My sincere condolences to Craig's family, friends, and coworkers. Craig was
truly a talented and good person. He always could put a smile on your face.
He will be missed by all that he touched by his kindness.

Mike Coakley, former coworker, Intervale, NH

Posted by Mike Coakley - Intervale, NH - Coworker   March 21, 2018

To Simmone Grimard and Ron Johnston, I am so sorry for the loss of your son. Craig was one of my best friends in the whole world. He was always available to take in a movie or go out to dinner somewhere. We both shared a love of seafood and he even took the time to show me where to get a clamming license in New Hampshire, which I never would have figured out on my own. Whether digging for clams or attending all the outdoor Halloween Events, Craig was there for me. I considered myself a sister to Craig and was so hoping to spend more time together. I will miss you Craig, always.

Posted by Sarah Flanagan - Allenstown, NH - Friend   March 20, 2018

I met Craig in college. He was such a great friend and helped me out tremendously. I was very saddened to hear of his passing. He will be sorely missed. My condolences to his family.

Posted by Mike Thibeault - Meredith, NH - Friend   March 20, 2018

I met Craig years ago through mutual friends. He was such a great person I always looked forward to our conversations. He will be missed. My condolences to his family.

Posted by Lori Perreault - Sandown, NH - Friend   March 20, 2018

My sincere condolences. Craig was a wonderful person who always had the time to help his coworkers and make them laugh with his dry sense of humor. He will sorely be missd.

Posted by Mchael Wieczorek - Baltimore, MD   March 20, 2018

Condolences to all of Craig's friends and family. Craig was not only a very talented physical scientist at USGS but, also a very funny, caring and intelligent person and a very good friend to so many. Everyone who met him could not help but like him. Craig had so many interests - from boating to boat building to traveling to politics... He was a great friend to me and to so many others. I will miss working with him and our talks about travel and politics, and laughing with him. He will be missed by his many co-workers and friends.

Posted by Rob Flynn - Pembroke, NH - Friend   March 20, 2018

I only new Craig for a short time. His kindness and smile were his trademark and will be missed around MakeIt Labs.

Posted by Tom Goll - Nashua, NH - Friend   March 20, 2018

A shock and a true loss. Craig was always a positive and inquisitive guy at MakeIt labs and I count myself fortunate to have known him. I remember just recently he went out of his way to introduce some visiting friends to me based on mutual interested. He will be missed.

Posted by Johnathan Vail - Nashua, NH - Acquaintance   March 20, 2018

I am very surprised and disappointed to hear of Craig's passing. Only the other day we were discussing history and working on his Iowa. He showed me a Soviet uniform a friend had gifted him recently. Just like always he was smiling and friendly. I will always remember Craig for his ready smile and willingness to help out.

Posted by Brent Theobald - Kingston, NH - Friend   March 20, 2018

Condolences to Craig's family. Craig was a good friend to those of us that worked with him at the USGS and in particular the binational SPARROW modeling group. His colleagues in the US and Canada mourn his passing.

Posted by David Saad - Middleton, WI - Coworker   March 20, 2018

My deepest sympathy to the family for the loss of Craig, who was a delightful, warm, caring, and friendly person. I have known Craig since he was hired at the USGS and found his sense of humor to be uplifting and wonderful. He loved what he did and was outstanding in his computer skills. He made us laugh along with him and has left us with many wonderful stories the reflect the sense of humor that he had. He will be missed.

Posted by Deb Foster - Dunbarton, NH - Coworker   March 20, 2018

Simmone, I am saddened to read of Craig's passing. We used to enjoy talking to him when he lived in Weare.

Posted by Norm & Pat Marquis - Weare, NH   March 20, 2018

Sincere condolences to the family. When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure in your heart and it lives forever. May the wonderful treasures fill your hearts with love and bring you peace, Hosea 13:14. *

Posted by A friend   March 19, 2018

Oh my, what a loss - I got to know Craig through work at the U.S. Geological Survey on the National Hydrologic Dataset (NHD). Craig was a talented Hydrologist and a Technologist extraordinaire! I will miss your passion for the NHD, hydrology and the nexus of technology and water. Not to mention the adventures with your speedboat, changing river pictures, the boat building, and all of the great feedback and comments on my sci/tech posts. The World and the USGS have lost a colleague and a friend. My heart goes out to your family and to all your friends - you live on in our memories and actions. Thank-you for being a friend of mine!

Posted by Lorri Peltz-Lewis - Auburn, CA - Friend   March 19, 2018

Craig will be missed at MakeIt Labs. His battleship project is amazing, he was always happy to share what he was working on, and was genuinely interested in what other people were working on too. All that with a smile too.

Posted by Jay Francis - Merrimack, NH - Friend   March 19, 2018

I'm so upset to hear about Craig, he was such a sweetheart. Always a smile, a cheerful hello, and an offer to help others when hanging out at MakeIt Labs. My condolences to his family, he will surely be missed.

Posted by JENNIFER COTE - PELHAM, NH - Friend   March 19, 2018

I am so saddened to hear of Craig's passing. I knew Craig through MakeIt Labs. Craig was well-loved by anyone who met him at MakeIt Labs. He always had a smile on his face and would lend a helping hand whenever needed. His positivity was contagious. I know that we will all miss having him around. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to meet him and get to know him. Craig's friends and family all have my most sincere condolences.

Posted by Mindy Abodeely - Nashua, NH - Friend   March 19, 2018

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My deepest condolences to Craig's family and friends. I remember Craig as a fun loving guy who loved the outdoors and loved the work he did. I remember how much he loved to go boating on the river with friends and his ability to make others smile. He will be greatly missed.