Ray Johnson was valuable contributor to McMaster and Hamilton

McMaster University’s former athletics director and coach, Dr. Ray Johnson, died on Tuesday. He was 72.

The retired McMaster professor was synonymous with not only campus athletics but university sports on a national level. Away from the university, Johnson was heavily committed to several community efforts as a volunteer.

His association with McMaster started in 1965 when he joined the Marauders football staff as an assistant coach. Prior to that his allstar collegiate career with the University of Western Ontario Mustangs caught the eyes of the Canadian Football League Edmonton Eskimos, who drafted the lineman in 1958. He played three season with the Esks.

Johnson was with the Marauders when they won the 1967 Atlantic Bowl and were College Bowl (now Vanier Cup) finalists. He became head football coach in 1969 and led the Marauders for 11 seasons – 1969-1971 and from 1973-1980. But his athletic involvement at Mac wasn’t limited to football. From 1965-69 he was head coach of the wrestling team and was a founding member of the Hamilton-Wentworth Wrestling club.

Johnson spent two terms (10 years) as the Chair of McMaster Men’s Athletics (1973-1978 and 1985-1991). He was a two-time president of the Ontario University Athletic Association and spent several years on the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union’s board of directors.

He also served on groups that brought the Ontario Summer Games to Hamilton and was a member of the organizing committee for the International Children’s Games in 2000.

Johnson was inducted into the University of Western Ontario Hall of Fame in 1989 as a student-athlete, McMaster Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993 as a Builder and Brantford’s Sport Hall of Recognition.

He had been involved with more than 20 community groups and was a member of the Ancaster Lions club for more than 40 years, worked with the Lions McInnes House for the Deaf and Blind in Brantford. He was involved with the board of Sport Hamilton, the police advisory committee on diversity, Hamilton-Wentworth Crime Stoppers and the Hamilton District Health Council. Johnson sat on the board of the Bridge from Prison to the Community program, which counsels people needing assistance to re-established themselves in the community.

Four years ago, Johnson received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal and in 2003 he was named Ancaster’s Citizen of the Year. The following year, he was inducted into Hamilton’s Gallery of Distinction and followed that honour in 2005 when he was named Hamilton Citizen of the Year.

He retired from McMaster in 1993 and the Dr. Ray Johnson Award is presented annual to a distinguished athlete.

He is survived by wife, Thelma, and twin sons Richard and Raymond.