Rafer Johnson
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Rafer Johnson won the decathlon gold medal at the 1960 Olympic games in Rome.

We invite you to share condolences for Rafer Johnson in our Guest Book.

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Published in Brattleboro Reformer on Dec. 2, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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60 entries
December 27, 2020
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
David Glick
December 25, 2020
Please accept my sincere condolences on the loss of your dear loved one,may the family find comfort in God's word st jihn5:28,29
December 14, 2020
Having grown up with the Johnson family in the small town of Kingsburg and sharing the experiences from childhood to adulthood in our small community, our hearts are saddened as we learn of Rafer’s passing. So many memories as we grew up together and shared life’s precious gifts. We do believe that as we pass through this life to the next that one day we will be reunited with Rafer and the wonderful Johnson family in a place of everlasting peace and love.
The Harrison Family
Marvin Harrison
Friend
December 13, 2020
FLY HIGHER STAND STRAIGHT U.S.A. ALL THE WAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ENJOY , YOUR HOLIDAYS TO YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!! SIR #1 JAMES 3:01-3:18 .............
EDWARD DAVID CULLEN
December 12, 2020
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Alishia
December 10, 2020
As Principal of Rafer Johson School in Bakersfield, CA I was honored to know and spend time with Rafer. His enthusiasm and support for our special needs school was unparalleled. He gladly attended many events over the years and cheered on our children at local Special Olympics gatherings.
His character, dedication and care was evident to all who came in contact with him.
I am proud to have known Rafer and called him my friend.
Ron Titus
Ron Titus
Friend
December 8, 2020
Our condolences go out to the family of Rafer Johnson. What a athlete. He will always be remembered in Olympic history. So sorry for your loss.
Lee
Neighbor
December 8, 2020
May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief.
Anonymous... Gary, IN
December 7, 2020
You paved the way for the rest can follow and we thank you. May continue to bless this family in Jesus name.
Gloria Steagall
December 6, 2020
Praying for the family & friends!!!
Ethel Richardson
Grandchild
December 6, 2020
Mr Johnson, you did the
US proud. Now it’s time for you to rest with the heavenly angels
They will embrace you with an abundance of love. Our lord is waiting with open arms.
RIp Sir. Condolences to family, friends and everyone that loves you. My family did.
December 6, 2020
Our deepest condolences to Betsy, the children and the grand children. A great athlete and a gentleman. I'm happy to have met you sir.
Wayne THORPE
Friend
December 6, 2020
Rest in peace, you did an excellent job and now you can rest.
Peter Hall
December 6, 2020
After a lifetime of personal memories of Rafer, it is heartbreaking to read of his death. Very few people in this world could have accomplished what he did or been the terrific human being he was. Sincere condolences to his wife and family, Barbara Seeley Burrows
Barbara Seeley Burrows
Friend
December 6, 2020
I am deeply sorry for your loss, may memories of him be a blessing. I cried when he won the gold in Rome. It is a true loss for sports because he was such a sportsman and lived up to his legacy as an ambassador for sports. RIP Mr. Johnson!
M. Bilson
December 6, 2020
Thank you for your selfless devotion to your country and sport. You taught me to believe in myself and live up to this democratic nation's ideals. My family and I are grateful for everything you changed as the face of Americans in Rome. Like President Obama, you were the very first. God bless your family during their time of loss.
T.B.
December 6, 2020
To the family of one of the greatest peacemakers of our time, the world is better because Mr Rafer Johnson lived in it.
Cheryl Rice-Moore
December 5, 2020
May he rest in peace and may his family cherish the memories made with him.
Rubbie L Major
December 5, 2020
My deepest condolences to the Johnson family, so saddened by this news. A sports talent for the ages, my heart goes out to the Johnson family, may God be with you all at such a very difficult time, truly sorry for your loss.
December 5, 2020
A true athlete who demonstrated the definition of sportsmanship in every sense. Heartfelt condolences to the Johnson family, may God be with all of you, so very sorry for your loss.
R B
December 5, 2020
I was a 17 year old man at basic training in OCT.59 in San Antonio, Texas, air force. I heard Rafer was on base and when to the Air Guards where he was in basic training.. The barracks guard called him out for me and we met. I was on track team in high school, raced time in 4:56, and enjoyed talking with him. Wished him well for 1960 and he followed up. In the late 60s in Burlington, Vt. he was invited to be a speaker at a fund raiser at Broadacres on Lake Champlain in Colchester,Vt and you know I went there. God Bless Rafer, we had a nice chat and I have a picture of us together. I had an adult bev. in my hand. And when I told him we had met in 1959, he remember the kid from Essex Jct. Vermont. God Bless the Johnson Family and wonderful to read of Rafer's great life. Will keep him and you all in my prayers, feeling very sure he was a great American. My best to the Johnson Family . dick terrien
Dick Terrien
Friend
December 4, 2020
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
john follman
December 4, 2020
Rafer Johnson's athletic accomplishments, as great as they were, pale in comparison to the Humanitarian Gifts of helping those in need, that he aspired to all his life. A better human being I have never met. RIP my friend.
Coach Harry Marra
Harry Marra
Friend
December 4, 2020
Godspeed Rafer, and thank you for sharing a part of your life with us.
Harry Simpson
December 4, 2020
While a FAX sales rep for Xerox I earned a trip to the 1984 Olympics. Rafer Johnson gave a fantastic motivational speech to our Xerox group - NOT a word about himself; all about setting goals, working hard. I had the great honor and great pleasure of meeting him - he was as humble, classy, and nice a guy I've ever met. I offer my sincere condolences to his family.
Tony Chibbaro
December 4, 2020
Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to family and friends.
May you all be comforted as you cherish the wonderful memories you’ve shared as well as the beautiful words of comfort from God. To comfort “ All who mourn “ .
Brings you a measure of solace and peace during this very difficult time.
Isaiah 61:1,2.
Will & Rossy
December 3, 2020
Dear Rafer Johson Family,
I was a teenager in a small mid-western town dreaming about being a great athlete when I matured. The story of Rafer and C.K Yang was my inspiration to work as hard as could to be as good as I could possibly be (per coach Wooden) I had that iconic poster in my workout area. Through out my life I have followed Rafer's accomplishiments as a guide for my life goals. Recently, we visited the the Jesse Owens museum in Alabama and perhaps I will have the same privelege if we have the opportunity to visit California again. So sorry for your loss. Bruce
Bruce Brandon
December 3, 2020
We all were so proud of Rafer Johnson for becoming the champion Decathlete in the Olympic Games of 1960. To the family, friends, and admirers, please accept my deepest condolences for your loss. May the God of tender mercies comfort you and may your memories remain close to your heart.
Mary Smith
Neighbor
December 3, 2020
Dear Johnson Family Rory and I would luv to express our condolences's on the loss of Rafer Johnson./he'll surely be missed very much./may he rest in peace.best faith/rory
faith/rory tobin/dockett
Acquaintance
December 3, 2020
He was my inspiration in the throws as a quick and agile athlete. I have thought of him many times over the years.
Tom Herbert
December 3, 2020
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
December 3, 2020
Sincere condolences to the family of Rafer Johnson.May the God of comfort and peace strengthen you during this difficult time.
JE Sowell
December 3, 2020
Deepest condolences to the Johnson family. Rafer was an inspiration for so many and the reason I am a part of the Special Olympics movement today. Let us celebrate his life and continue his good work. Sue Perles, CEO Special Olympics Alaska
Sue Perles
Friend
December 3, 2020
God Bless you Mr Rafer Johnson, the dear Lord has another athlete for his team in Heaven, what a team it must be!
Prayers for the family and friends
Chuck G
December 3, 2020
It was a pleasure to know and learn about you for the past 60 years. I watched you at the Olympics and admired you throughout the assassination of Robert Kennedy and your life. You led an honorable life and it’s a shame people like you have to age. My condolences to your family.
Elaine G Mock
Friend
December 3, 2020
Sincere condolences to the Johnson Family, May the God of Comfort take of you as he mends up and binds up your grieving hearts with His tender care and peace. May His arm of support strength you to cope with your loss during this very difficult time Psalm 68:19
BRY
December 3, 2020
The world and Los Angeles has lost a great Olympian and Human being. May he rest in peace and God bless him in heaven. My deepest sympathy to his family.

- Gary H Roller, Southern California, Dec 3, 2020
Gary Roller
Acquaintance
December 3, 2020
Condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Johnson. So sorry to hear of your loss.
December 3, 2020
Our heart felt condolences go out to the Johnson family of the loss of a great athlete and human being. We will all miss him and what he did for this country. May he rest in heaven ❤
Keith Tillman
Acquaintance
December 3, 2020
Rafer Johnson's persona and greatness as an athlete and gracious human being have been one of the torches that have guided my life.
December 3, 2020
My condolences.
December 3, 2020
Carol Sivadge
December 3, 2020
This man was a great Athlete !! I watch him at the Olympics on TV. That
Guy could Run!
Condolences to his Family .
Sue Willard
Gr.Mich.
December 3, 2020
Johnson was not just an incredible athlete but also an amazing human being. We pray that God continues to strengthen and comfort the family during this difficult time.
December 3, 2020
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Frederick Simmons 3
December 3, 2020
It’s a sad day. I met Rafer in his capacity of guest for Hershey Track and Field and the PA Parks and Recreation conferences. He was an amazing and generous man. He made time for people and was so humble. Condolences to his wife, son and daughter.
Diantha Grant
Friend
December 3, 2020
I am so sorry about the loss of Ross. What a legend and a legacy! My condolences are with the Johnson family. I pray that you will be surrounded by the love & support that you need. And may "the God who supplies endurance and comfort" (Roman's 15:5) be with you always.
Jenee
December 2, 2020
Rafer was a friend and most importantly he entrusted to me Jenny’s and then Josh’s first early childhood nursery school experience. Rafer you were a gentle soul and will always be remembered. I am sad today
Bonnie Lawrence(Bell)
Friend
December 2, 2020
I quote the closing line of the film "The Bridges at Toko Ri" : "Where do we get such men"
David Finston
December 2, 2020
I made my acquaintance with Rafer at the Special Olympics and AVP.
Rafer was a gentle giant of a man. He was proud to be the father of two amazing children and an amazing wife.
What he accomplished in sports was nothing compared to his accomplishments as a husband, father and grandfather.
God rest your soul and please watch over your family.
I was truly blessed to make your acquaintance. You are such an amazing human being, please watch over all of us from heaven. RIP... from a devoted fan..
Sandy Dannis Doer
Sandy
Acquaintance
December 2, 2020
My Condolences go out to the family Rest In Peace
Loretta Coleman
Friend
December 2, 2020
I WAS A STUDENT AT UCLA for summer session 1958, while a fulltime student at Emory University in Atlanta. I took summer session courses and stayed at the ATO House at UCLA/ . I think that Rafer was student body President. He, to me, was a hero and although a small town Georgia boy, I was not one to be racially prejudiced, nor am I today at age 82.
By the way, I am also a Conservative Republican, believe it or not ! I caln proudly say that I was one of Rafer's "Southern classmates", albeit for only short time.-Dr.Bill Sharpton(O.D.)
DR BILL SHARPTON
Classmate
December 2, 2020
A true legend in American History from a small town in the Kern County. My elder brothers had the privilege to know him and go to high school with him. I personally would have like to have met him but felt I knew him through my brothers. My condolences to his family for their loss of a great man, athlete, and diplomat for our country.
Mary Lou Alderete Williams
Acquaintance
December 2, 2020
I had a chance to meet and speak to Rafer in Maui in 1989. He was and will always be a true
‘Class Act.’ My sincere condolences to the Johnson family.
RMW
December 2, 2020
My Condolences To The Family;
I’m so sorry for your great loss. May all of the beautiful memories that you all shared with your loved one, bring you all some comfort when sadness sets in.
December 2, 2020
An exceptional and noble man. Rafer represented himself, his community, school, and state, and his nation with extraordinary distinction. Rafer Johnson was, and will always be, a true American hero.
December 2, 2020
Scott Chamberland
December 2, 2020
In loving memory of a wonderful person and athlete who I have always wished I could have had the honor of meeting. We will love you and miss you always.
Herman Stayman
December 2, 2020
I was a UCLA teammate of Rafer. He was a magnificent man. I recall he came to my office years later and posed the question to my staff of "Do you have any idea how fast he was?" It was amusing, since I couldn't come close to Rafer's speed. One time, I had to take his place in the 4-man 880 relay at the Fresno Relays. Rafer pulled a muscle running over the hurdles. Humanity has lost a true monument. I can only hope that we keep in mind the spirit and character of Rafer in our daily lives. Rafer, as long as anyone who knew you is still breathing, you will always be remembered.
Sid Pelston
Classmate
December 2, 2020
I'll never forget him winning the gold in Rome. It meant so much to me seeing someone who looked like me representing our country. He was a true humanitarian and was a legend on and off the field. Sports has lost one of its greatest athletes.
Bob Young
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