Letters to the Editor: For a few mornings, Rafer Johnson was my jogging buddy

Rafer Johnson carries the Olympic torch before the Los Angeles Summer Games in 1984.
Rafer Johnson runs on the track at the Coliseum before lighting the Olympic flame at the Los Angeles Summer Games on July 28, 1984.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: In the 1980s, I was a faithful morning jogger making my customary round circling the two-mile path around Balboa Island in Newport Beach. I was not a much of a sports fan, but as I approached a small group of people, something “clicked” inside my head and I said, “Good morning, Rafer!” (“Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson, who helped bring Summer Games to L.A., dies at 86,” Dec. 2)

Pretty soon, I heard foot steps running behind me. Rafer Johnson caught up and jogged with me.

We chatted about this and that. For a few more mornings after that, I’d hear his footsteps as he ran to catch up with me. What a pleasure! Always the modest gentleman, he never mentioned he was there training for the final relay of the Olympic torch for the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.


Now, at 83, I have a lovely, warm memory of this gracious, kind man.

Barbara Emigh, Newport Beach


To the editor: I grew up devouring the extraordinary sports writing of the New York Times and Sports Illustrated and loved it so much I pursued a career as a sports journalist. Although I changed course more than 35 years ago, I still appreciate and admire a good story well told.

Scott Wilson’s tribute to Rafer Johnson was one of those articles that weave a tale that inspires, informs and entertains. I am happy to know quality sports writing is alive and well on the West Coast.

Toni Robin, San Diego


To the editor: Thank you for the appreciation of Rafer Johnson.

My only quarrel is that Tom Brokaw’s description of him as the “quintessential American athlete” is one word too long. Rafer Johnson was the quintessential American.

Bob Haut, Topanga