This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Dr. Dennis Johnson CD, OD., 81 years old, born on May 6, 1939, and passed away on April 23, 2021. We will remember him forever.
Posted by Leroy Allison on May 7, 2022
RIP DJ. You are missed. Legend
Posted by Jacque' Daley on May 6, 2022
Happy birthday Denis. Continue to RIP
Posted by Teacher Ky on May 6, 2022
Happy Birthday Pops! Missing you still.
Posted by Jacque' Daley on April 23, 2022
Continue to rest in peace great man. The society misses you.
Posted by Teacher Ky on April 23, 2022
One year later and I still think of you all of the time. I miss you every day. This world was a better place when you were in it. There is so much I have to tell will always be in my heart. Love you.
Posted by Paul Harvey on November 8, 2021
DJ I want to thank you for believing in me a skinny soccer player from your 1981 CAST soccer team. You changed my life with your wisdom and positive approach to all things. I took everything you taught me on the soccer team and put them to use in the field of life.
Posted by Jeanette Bartley-Bryan on May 27, 2021
Condolences to and prayers for the Johnson family. I am glad to have met the legendary Dennis Johnson and personally experienced his tremendous passion, humour, confidence and wisdom as he shared success stories and also multiple ideas for online courses in Sport Sciences to benefit the Caribbean. May his soul rest in peace.
Posted by Claire Sutherland on May 27, 2021
My deepest condolences to Peter, all of Dennis's close and extended family, and large circle of friends, athletes, admirers, and colleagues, worldwide.
I will miss Dennis, talking with him, listening to his innumerable stories about his life, family, profession, and his many victories. Dennis was a very accomplished, confident, and bold man who never stopped making a contribution to sports, community, and being an inspiration, loyal and enduring friend to many persons, including myself.
It was my honour and distinct pleasure to have served on the Sports Advisory Council of University of Technology, Jamaica under his Chairmanship, and becoming a Director of the Dennis Johnson Foundation.
Dennis, your great legacy lives on at University of Technology, Jamaica, in Jamaica and abroad, through your family, friends, great accomplishments, contributions, and the many persons and institutions which you have empowered and inspired. May your soul rest in peace.
Claire Sutherland
Posted by Kamilah Hylton on May 27, 2021
The University of Technology, Jamaica will be forever grateful for your priceless contribution to the development of the Department of Sports. You were also involved in the formative days of the Caribbean School of Sport Sciences and served as a patron for our first conference. You exuded confidence and an attitude of "let's get it done" . You did what others thought impossible and blazed a path. RIP Dr. Johnson.
Posted by Patricia Mahoney on May 26, 2021
"Death leaves a heartache that nobody can heal and love leaves a memory that no one can steal".

Sir Dennis - you were a true visionary and a selfless person. Your legacy will continue to live on for years to come. I am so thankful to have known you from the CAST days. I will always remember your kind words and awesome sense of humour.

I offer my heartfelt condolences to Peter and the rest of the family.

May his soul rest in peace.
Posted by Leroy Cooke on May 6, 2021
I'm not sure how to do this. How can I try and describe someone so special in plain old words? And, how can I possibly sum up the feelings and memories I have for Dennis Johnson in one tribute? It’s almost impossible.
I’ve received so many messages from the last few weeks and I have heard from many of his boys and a few gals and people from many places saying “there are no words” – well, there are. There are words.
There are words of happiness about the treasured times we all had with DJ, albeit too brief. There are words of HOPE to describe his individuality and how he motivated us. There are words of sorrow to try and communicate what we are feeling now that he has left us.
But maybe most of all, there are words of strength, of hope, of power and of resilience. Words that can bring us all together, to cross these choppy waters and come out the other side, better for it.
For me, DJ was a fiery spark full of love and determination. He was smart, motivating, challenging, empathetic, engaging and encouraging.
He was a great listener with time for friends from all walks of life. He was as selfless as he was determined and left his mark on so many people. He was one of the best things to happen to my life and he strengthened me every day we spent together.
DJ was from a certain mould of a man. He was like both our father, our brother and many of our friends - a strong, positive and certain man. No inch given but powerful respect and warmth in every encounter. He was the powerful type of man that we see challenging our society today and I deeply loved that about him.
I feel so lucky to have shared just over 42 years with DJ. He's made me a better person. He's left an indelible mark in my life and others and we need to honour that with strength and with love.
We first met in late September 1979 – From the first time I met him, I realized that this man was no regular coach, the philosophy that you can be anything you wanted to be, really meant something when you are with him. I found him so intriguing and at the same time, I am at ease with him. He made me feel and certainly the other guys on the track team that you can conquer the world. That transcended to how people would see me and the other guys on the track team. People felt that we were “boastsie” not that we were acting that way, but because of the confidence that came about under DJ guidance.
If DJ loves you, he loved you and if he didn’t, he didn’t. There was no middle ground as far as that was concerned. That’s just the way he was!
I and the guys shared a lot of memories and one of my regrets was that his son Peter did not get as much as some of us did, since he was only born 26 years ago.
I’m so scared of losing all those memories. I worry that as time passes my mind will shed those precious gifts. But I know that even if it does, He’s in a part of me that nobody can ever touch. There’s a compartment in my heart that will hold his ‘til the day I die.
DJ was a person who valued the relationship with the guys “and the gals as well” over anything else. He was most comfortable in that group where you could talk about important things not only track & field, but of late he would talk about “Donald Trump”. He forged such tight bonds with many of you and I'd like to thank you all for being there for him throughout thick and thin. He valued you all so much. He always wanted to spend more time with you all, especially his boys and his dominoes partners.
Above everyone else came his son Peter and his daughter Joan of which he loved so deeply, unconditionally and without question. The Boys & Gals, Utech & Calabar family comes next.
I've lost a lot in losing DJ:
He is the father who I met before my real father. I say this because I only met and spoke to my real father when I was 19 (since he left Jamaica before I was born). 
This is the man who came to find me at home in Portmore the day after I was hurt at Intercollegiate champs, not knowing where in Portmore I was living and he did find me.
The man who taught me how to treat a woman, how to court them etc.
The man who taught me about the sense of purpose.
The man who taught me about humility.
The man who taught me to be fearless.
The man who taught me how to be a true sprinter, and a lot more. 
Walk good my father, until we meet again to play a few more hands of dominoes. 
Miss You! High Knees!

Leroy Cooke - friend, confidant and one of the sons
Posted by Denise Currie-Charles on May 6, 2021
DJ was a visionaire that contributed tremendously to track and fields' growth at CAST/UTech and by extension Jamaica. Thank you Sir Johnson. RIP.
Posted by David Miller on May 4, 2021
There is overwhelming support for the point of view that Dennis Osric Johnson (DJ) ran a strong race and finished it with distinction. The superlative ethos which earmarked his earthly journey is worthy of the obeisance of his alma mater.

As we contemplate the life, work and worth of this recently departed Olympian and sporting legend, the Calabar Old Boys’ Association (COBA) are acutely aware of its indebtedness to him for the unadulterated honour which he has brought to the venerable institution of Calabar High School.

After graduating from Calabar, he attended Bakersfield College and then San Jose State College in the USA, where under Bud Winter’s tutelage, Dennis won several regional and international medals and equalled the world record, 9.3 seconds, for the 100 yards dash.

DJ was a visionary, and some say that ‘he was ahead of his time’. He used his research and affinity for the sciences to master the art of coaching, studying what it takes for the human mind and body to be transformed into athleticism. He fine-tuned several areas of athletics, including techniques in sprint starting and baton changing, towards achieving maximizing efficiency. Most importantly, DJ taught many youngsters and unbelievers to achieve heights that they thought were not possible.

Fuelled by his college experience and administrative expertise, he introduced the collegiate athletics programme in Jamaica, cradled at the College of Arts Science and Technology (CAST). It is largely believed that his foray into coaching and sports administrator has contributed significantly to the athletic powerhouse status that Jamaica is currently enjoying. As head coach at CAST, he formed the celebrated Bolts of Lightning in the 1980s and, in a sense, mentored Stephen Francis through the vehicle of the MVP, which fostered and developed world-class athletes.

Dennis had an illustrious career at CAST and at the University of Technology as Director of Sports, adjunct associate professor of sports science. In the latter capacity, he commenced in 2010 a Sports Science programme, chairman of the Sports Advisory Council, and headed special projects for intercollegiate sports.

So today and oh if ever

Duty’s voice is ringing clear

Bidding men to brave endeavour

We will answer, “We are here”

Dennis answered, “Here Sir” on many occasions and in 2016, COBA honoured him at our Annual Reunion Dinner. So gracious, humbled, and thankful that he was, to be among many of his lifelong friends and to be recognized by his beloved alma mater, Dennis handed us all his medals and tokens that reflected his successes in athletics, for placement in the Calabar Museum. The Calabar family is eternally grateful to a man who gave his all, not only to Calabar but to sports and Jamaica.

On Friday, April 23, the lights dimmed, and the curtains came down on the life of this esteemed alumnus. A grateful school community is left to reflect on the immense contribution of this towering colossus to the sporting landscape. His life spoke persuasively to the fact that he gave his utmost to the vocation of developing aspiring athletes. His work and worth will be eternally burnished on the athletic fabric of the nation.

O God of grace and glory, we give you thanks for the more than eight decades that you lent your son Dennis Osric to us. Now that you have seen it fit to promote him to higher service, grant him eternal rest and peace at last.
Posted by Carmen Headley on May 3, 2021
Dr. Dennis Johnson – Educator

By Bernie Panton

When Dennis Johnson left the shores of Jamaica in 1959 on a track
scholarship to Bakersfield J. C. in California, he was the fastest
schoolboy ever seen on local tracks. It was generally predicted that the
Calabar speedster would become a world record holder but even his
most loyal fans were surprised at how quickly that goal was realized.
He achieved the feat before his 22 nd birthday – not once but three times
in a frantic seven-week spell in the spring of 1961. A fourth 9.3
clocking over the 100 yards was not ratified due to a faulty wind gauge;
but such consistently fast sprinting had not been seen in recent memory.
Further predictions about his future career would never have included a
headline like the caption above. We are referring, of course, to his later
contributions as coach, mentor, motivator, lecturer and institutional
builder – in short, as an Educator.

Johnson’s aspirations to become the world’s top sprinter was cut short
by injury in May of that banner year, when he was ranked number two at
the end of his truncated season. It was particularly disappointing to
renowned sprint coach, Bud Winter, who was then guiding Dennis after
his transfer to San Jose State. The coach had used Johnson’s relaxed
style as the model for his texts on sprinting, with “high knees and feet
just kissing the ground” as Winter described it.

Although hampered by injuries, Dennis was able to continue competing
until the Olympic Games in Tokyo (1964), where he anchored our sprint
relay team to fourth place in the final and serving notice that Jamaica
was also poised to become a force in the shorter relay.

It took one hundred years after GC Foster and Norman Manley had first
hinted at the Jamaican propensity for speed before our country’s
sprinters confirmed their position at the pinnacle of world sprinting by
leaving Berlin in 2009 with all male sprint titles and WR’s, along with
the women’s gold and silver medals in the 100m and sprint relay title.
DJ’s world records came roughly at the mid-point of that century – and
it is the view of many that his contribution to the development of the
sport in the second half of the century is as significant as Wint’s and
McKenley’s in the first.

This has been most significantly manifested in Dennis’ work at the
University of Technology. When he joined the College of Arts, Science
and Technology (CAST, later UTECH) from the Carreras Sports
Foundation over forty years ago, there was no organized sports
programme at the institution.

Today, UTECH boasts a Faculty of Sports Science and its campus has
become ‘the home of world champions’. Jamaica’s rise to the top of
world sprinting can be traced directly to the prototype established by
Dennis at CAST/UTECH. The local conditioning of athletes for
international competition has been a key ingredient in our recent
successes. Johnson’s influence on Jamaica’s cadre of world class
coaches has also played a major part in this development.
His pioneering work in Physical Education, Intercollegiate Sports and
Sports Medicine has not gone unnoticed; and he has been willing to
share his vast knowledge with overseas beneficiaries. He has held
sprinting clinics in Europe, Asia and the Americas; and made important
contributions to Jamaica’s participation in the World University Games.
Dennis was also the first Director of the IAAF’s High Performance
Centre, which was established at UTECH in the early years of the new

As a former long serving member on the JAAA’s executive, he made
important technical contributions in influencing the direction that the
sport has taken. He has been Technical Leader and Coach on many of
Jamaica’s national teams and must have been particularly pleased when
two of his CAST sprinters (Anthony Davis and Michael Davis) joined
him on the Moscow Olympic Games team in 1980. We recall with
pleasure the symmetrical efficiency of his “Bolts of Lightning” relay

Dennis’ personal story of obstacles, triumph and nation building was
published by the University of Technology in February 2012 entitled
“Road to Olympic Glory - From Dennis Johnson's Diaries”. Dennis was
also awarded the Honorary Doctorate of Technology by the institution
for his immense contribution to the University’s sports development.

The edifice that Dennis and our other dedicated coaches have erected is
now under siege, as continuing drug testing failures will tend to erode
the credibility of our programme. So far, no fingers have been pointed
in the coaches’ direction and their reputations remain intact. The cases
are still perceived as random indiscretions, rather than being
representative of a systemic flouting of the regulations.

Our athletes journey to the top of world sprinting was accomplished
within an ethical framework and with the highest principles of integrity
and fair play, which are applicable to the country’s sporting
achievements in general. Dr. Dennis Johnson, Educator is just one of the
very important architects who played pivotal roles in this development.
“High knees, indeed your highness, but also high ideals!”
June 2016
Posted by Lorna Shelton Beck on May 1, 2021
Dennis’ dream of forming a track team at CAST began with me, the first person to sign up. Thankfully, it did not end there because within days Trevor Moulton and Walter Stretch Robinson signed up. Those early days were fun but hard work because we had to build a track, and a discus circle, so there was digging, flattening, rolling and pounding. Daily Dennis would hold court and the believers and non-believers would gather and he would regale us with stories of his exploits.
Over the years Dennis cemented his place in the history of CAST/Utech with his contribution to the Sports Department, the Physiotherapy Program the design and construction of the Sangster Auditorium, but more importantly to the hundreds of students to whom he devoted his life to ensure they got a tertiary education. He arranged for food, CAST admission, foreign scholarships, summer jobs, healthcare, bail money and the list go on. His personal accomplishments in track and field were many and placed him in the annals of Jamaican history.
Dennis, you ran a good race, you have crossed the finish line, go take your rest. You have given me my orders so until we meet again,
Love you forever.

Posted by Leroy Cooke on April 30, 2021
Tribute from: Bishop C. B. Peter Morgan
Ambassador of the Kingdom of God called Nationally to the People of Jamaica.

I wish to pay special tribute to Dennis Johnson who passed recently on Friday morning (23rd April 2021).
DJ, as we affectionately called him, was actually a close friend of mine as we grew up in the same neighbourhood in Kingston 11. I do recall how some of us as youngsters would run up and down the street. Of course, he used to ‘whip’ us all.
The legendary Jamaican sprinter is reputedly the only athlete in history to have equalled the world record in the 100 yards three times in six weeks in 1961. In that year he was acclaimed as the number one sprinter in the world. We all know of his drive and passion for sports after his running days which led him to embark upon the training of our own athletes based on his conviction that Jamaica had the capacity to create its own home-grown Olympic champions. His initiative at the College of Arts Science and Technology (C.A.S.T) in the early ’70s led to the now established MVP Track Club of coach Steven Francis producing the likes of Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Melaine Walker, Michael Frater, Shelly-Ann Frater-Pryce and Elaine Thompson.
What is very little spoken of but which inspires my personal tribute today, is his achievement at Schoolboy Championships. At Calabar High School in 1957 under the coaching of the famous Herb McKinley, he emerged as a star sprinter in the 100, 220 and 440 yards events. Unfortunately, he broke his arm just before Camps in 1957, but still went and ran with his arm tied to his body and came 4th in the 100yards and 3rd in the 220yards. The climax of his schoolboy achievements, however, came in 1958 when he broke the longstanding 100yards record setting a new mark of 9.80sec. He caught the eyes of many other athletes not the least of whom was my brother Colin, who became the class 2 champion in 1959 when JC won the Championship. As for me, I patterned his starting style and to my knowledge remain the only other schoolboy athlete to have broken the 10.00 seconds mark in that event at Champs. Of course, the Meet has since changed to the metric measurements so our achievements are no longer in the public’s eye.
All of Jamaica will miss DJ with his pleasant, affable personality, but even more so his positive and disciplined approach to the sport. It did not begin on the global scene. He was an admired friend of many as a youth and an inspiring athlete as a Schoolboy. May his legacy continue as we produce more Dennis
Johnsons in our Schools and in our professional clubs leading the world as the Sprint Factory of Athletics.

Bishop CB Peter Morgan
26th April 2021
Posted by Leroy Cooke on April 30, 2021
From Percival Noel James "PJ" Patterson, ON, PC, QC, (Jamaica 6th Prime Minister)

It is not generally known how Dennis Johnson came to choose Calabar High School.
One of my closest friend and classmate, Eric "Chirpy" Owen's, lived on Waltham Park Road with his mother whose yard had a lot of mango trees.
We would contrive to visit him frequently on weekends. There was youngster Dennis who was intruding and boasting that he could run faster than any of us. He backed this by beating all comers every time We told him we had 3 boys, GREENLAND, PHILLIPS AND KEANE who could run faster than him
"Bring them come", he said
No, you will have to come, was our retort.
That was the challenge that induced him to become a Lion of Lions.

The life and definitive contribution of Dennis Johnson laid the foundation and pillars which will ensure that. JAMAICA will always command admiration and respect in the global arena.

Dennis Johnson has earned his unique place in the annals of history
His memorable performances at Champs, year after year as well as his record-breaking of the 100-metres time after time ensure that his legendary accomplishments can never be forgotten
Posted by Lloyd Phipps on April 28, 2021
“DJ “coach Johnson knew no boundaries when it came to track and field. Jamaica became ny second home when he welcomed me with open arms at UTECH. His passion was sharing his wealth of knowledge and improving the lives of all he touched. I am forever grateful to be a part of his legacy . “Kitty”
Posted by NICOLE BRYAN on April 27, 2021
Posted by Percival Palmer on April 27, 2021
Denis Johnson was a Great One, a man who had the Vision to see what others could not see. He had a unique way of doing things. He was a facilitator of Sports in general and Track and Field His First Love. He was a real  Trailblazer, we spent hours Conversing about Sports But Track and field in great detail at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Thank you for your wonderful insight and vision.
Thank you for your input, you will Be missed.
The Utmost For The Highest 
Posted by Paul Francis on April 27, 2021
Dr. Dennis Johnson, Jamaica will always be indebted to you, not only because of your Herculean exploits on the track, but because you created the avenue for a very productive senior program locally. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with senior athletes. Thank you for your mentorship. Forever loved.
Posted by Ruth Williams-Simpson Oly on April 27, 2021
A good heart has stopped beating, but a heart that has touched so many lives can’t help but live on in those it loved. Dj a purpose driven individual, you left indelible foot prints on the track and field map of Jamaica.
Rest in peace DJ.
Posted by Mike Ollivierre on April 27, 2021
Honored to have met this man.....from him I learnt a lot and he assisted a number of STETHS athletes in finding their way. DJ, you made a difference in the lives of many. Thanks.
Posted by Anthony Clarke on April 26, 2021
Dennis Johnson aka DJ coach extraordinaire..It was a great pleasure meeting you while at C.A.S.T. the love and passion you had for track and field opened doors for many.Your unselfish human quality is rare..The way you imparted your coaching skills were unique..I can hear you say " relax and win the Bud Winter way".You have left a rich legacy both on and off the track..Gone but will never be forgotten..R.I.P.
Posted by Donna Cyrild on April 26, 2021
I thank God for the day He allowed me to crossed path with Dr Dennis Johnson “DJ”. DJ has afforded me opportunities that I never dreamt of accessing on my own. I was able to tap into potential I never knew I had. Being one of the hundreds of individuals who, Because of DJ’s kindness, selflessness and non partiality- I had the opportunity to gain a college education and travel to and now lives in the USA. The best thing is, he never request payment for anything he did for me.

I still hear his voice teasing me and smiling , saying, “you only have one meal per day, “1 continuous meal””. This he said, because almost every time he comes around track house he sees me eating. Of course that wasn’t the case, he just happened to come around just as I decided to have a snack. 

DJ was truly God sent. May his soul Rest In Peace. Thank you God for this kind soul.

Posted by Teacher Ky on April 26, 2021
Dennis, DJ, Mr. Johnson, or Pops as I called him. I am so grateful to have met him just over a year ago. I will never forget our daily visits and how close we became. He would always say things like; if you make me some coffee, get me some phone credit, make me pancakes…. I will love you forever…he would say this each time...and I would say, but you have already promised to love me forever!

We talked about everything under the sun from politics, travel, literature, movies, history, relationships, his past life as a runner, his various jobs, his wives, lovers, son, and friends. All of whom he loved so deeply. And in turn, I shared my life story with him and he was never judgmental. He was a very loyal, intelligent man with integrity, he had a big heart and helped many people including me. I am so filled with thankfulness for all that he has done for me. Every day he greeted me with shinning eyes and beautiful smile and would say “I was just thinking of you!”, as if he willed me into his presence.

I can’t believe I will never see you again, but I know for sure I will never, ever forget you. I have never met a more loyal friend. I love you and miss you already Pops.

Posted by Rose Bowen on April 26, 2021
Coach Dennis Johnson gave of himself and then some! When I thought my track career was over he gave me a second chance which changed my life and I am just one of so many.  You have planted so many seeds of Generosity and so Well done. May your soul rest in peace.
Posted by Ed Barnes on April 26, 2021
Dr of Track and Field Dennis Johnson
The Man from Calabar with the high knee lift
Dominated at Boys Champs for his school even winning for the Red Hills Road school with a broken arm at Champs
Dennis did great things for the sport He loved and He did so without fanfare he went about his duties like a skilled Doctor would making sprinters understand the right way to sprint
He will be greatly missed his words stayed with you because what he said made sense and he would prove it all to you once you were willing to listen
He made me understand track and field like no one else could
I will always be thankful to have been privileged to benefit from the knowledge of this Geeat Gentleman
Dennis Johnson gone but will never be forgotten as He left his Mark in a big way
Thanks Dr Johnson
Posted by Bertram Gardner on April 26, 2021
My condolences to Coach Johnson’s family and friends. I first met and was coached by DJ at Calabar High school. So we were all star struck to know our coach had been to the Olympics and was once a world record holder, and to top it off he had the attitude. All the young sprinters wanted to be Dennis. Unfortunately, I did not have sprinter’s speed. I became a long-distance- runner. In 1970 I went to CAST and our path crossed again. This time Coach Johnson worked on my form and taught be how to run efficiently and that drastically improved my time. I was apart his first championship team at CAST. In 1972 I received a track scholarship that took me to Arkansas. January 8, 1973 DJ took me to the airport. His parting works were to remind me that my main goal was to get an education.
I am grateful for his dedication to the athletes under is care. So many of us have benefited from being around this great man. We owe a debt of gratitude to him. Coach Rest in peace
Posted by Carmen Clarke on April 25, 2021
I met DJ through the Carreras Sports Foundation and the JAAA ... he was always easy going and such a gentle gentleman. I recall how DJ would hold up his hands - palms facing front - if he was losing an argument and laughingly say "ok, ok I accept defeat"!!
You were a wonderful friend and it was a joy to watch you and Peter - the affection between you both was palpable. I know he will miss you greatly .. but you left him wonderful loving memories - so for him his Dad will never die.
Walk good DJ you played a fine inning... Your legacy will always be a vital and valuable part of Jamaican sporting history. You will always live in our hearts.
Posted by Chris Parkin on April 25, 2021
RIP DJ, you have contributed to Humanity with distinction, grace, passion and reverence, in no ordinary way. You will be painfully missed. You are undoubtedly a major contributor in my life experiences, accomplishments and in what I have become in my life today.
I will always remember how flashy you were with charisma, confidence, prominence, and how you loved life.
I will always remember when I first came to CAST you your learned that I was stay in a boarding house. You sent me a message, saying you refuse to accept this and you made arrangements for me to stay with the track team on campus, THANKS!
I will always love you.
Posted by Nadine Newell on April 25, 2021
Dennis and I came to know each other when I landed my first job in 1978 at the then CAST (now UTech) after leaving high school and doing a year of national youth service. I was the Students' Records Officer and he was the College's Sports Director, and our offices were next to each other. We became fast friends as he had a very welcoming and accepting attitude towards young people, unlike many of his other colleagues who I found did not take
kindly to young people - which I found strange since we all worked in an environment where the clientele was primarily young people!!! And little wonder Dennis was the way he was because his business was the business of young people - sports! We remained friends to the end. He was a great motivator and mentor to me, ever telling me whenever I doubted myself or my ability to take on anything challenging that I was one of the brightest persons he knew, if I could but recognize that myself. Dennis loved food and loved to cook, and I was privileged to be numbered among those for whom he prepared many a meal. He never tired of regaling me with stories of his track career and of his travels all over the world as an athlete. His memories were vivid, as if the events happened only recently. He and I shared many happy times during our friendship, and sadly we also shared one rather unfortunate and frightening experience of being held up by gunmen one Sunday evening many years ago at his then Norbrook Road residence. We survived that, and our bond of friendship strengthened after that incident.
I surely will miss you, Dennis. You've run your leg of the relay this side of life, and the baton has been passed.
Walk good my' tell dem other ones howdy...
Posted by Christopher Samuda on April 25, 2021

The Stature of Dennis Johnson

He was a celebrated architect of Jamaica's track and field edifice and the quintessential expression of humility in the face of prodigious Olympic and other accomplishments.

He was a world record holder, the character of which transcended the yardage of one hundred (100) which he traversed on the track. He was the coach's coach who understood the aspirations of his students and embraced the responsibility he had to create excellence.

Dennis Osric Johnson will be remembered as a faithful custodian of the values of sport and a father who nurtured many youth to imprint their spikes with timeless merit on this planet we call Earth.

The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) reflects with ineffable pride on the stature of an Olympian and with reverence on the soul of a man who we knew well and respected.

Christopher L. Samuda
Jamaica Olympic Association

Posted by Simon Bowen on April 26, 2021
JAMAICA has lost a visionary and thoughtful athletics administrator, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Dennis Johnson aka "DJ" has lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. I returned to Jamaica briefly in 1998 because of this man it was my first job as Plant Manager at UTECH. DJ leaves behind a legacy that only he could have built and watched blossomed, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of CAST - UTECH and Jamaica's now recognised local track and field KINGPIN.
Posted by Leroy Allison on April 25, 2021
To a friend and mentor. You gave me a chance to coach briefly with Utech. I think I travelled as an assistant coach to Puerto Rico for my first senior trip. You were always kind to me, brash but philosophical with me. Your stories were legendary. You gave many young people a chance to shine. DJ you will be missed. Legend
Posted by Jacque' Daley on April 25, 2021
Rest in eternal peace Dennis. You have touched so many lives in positive ways. Sleep on and take your rest! You will be greatly missed.

Leave a Tribute

Recent Tributes
Posted by Leroy Allison on May 7, 2022
RIP DJ. You are missed. Legend
Posted by Jacque' Daley on May 6, 2022
Happy birthday Denis. Continue to RIP
Posted by Teacher Ky on May 6, 2022
Happy Birthday Pops! Missing you still.
his Life

San Jose State University

San Jose State University
July 15, 2016 ·
Dennis Johnson left his island home in pursuit of two dreams: a college education and a world record. He tied the world record of 9.3 seconds and was ranked second in the world for the 100-meter dash in 1961. Three years later, he earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from SJSU and represented Jamaica in the Olympics.
“He returned to his native Jamaica after graduating and decided his country needed a U.S.-style college athletic program. He started working out of his car as sporting director of the University of Technology in Kingston, but three decades later, he is enjoying the culmination of his lifelong pursuit,” San Jose Mercury News reporter Elliott Almond wrote in 2008. 
Johnson is now known as a godfather of Jamaican track. Due to the opportunities he and others provide young athletes, the tiny island nation has produced a steady stream of world-class sprinters, including Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world today.

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Shared by Raymond Harvey on May 5, 2021
Patron  Milo Western Relays 1997

"DJ" Exemplary Athlete, Administrator and Coach

In an era in which sprinters such as Jamaican born Canadian sprinting sensation Donavon Bailey and the American Superhuman, Michael Johnson are wreaking havoc with their amazing world record breaking feats, Jamaicans, cognizant of our country's enviable history in athletics, can look back with pride, knowing that there was an era in which our own Dennis Johnson was the toast of World Athletics, equaling the World's 100 yards record four times in one season.

Johnson who is one of the most respected track  coach in Jamaica, first came to prominence in the mid 50's when he represented Calabar High School as a budding young sprinter at the Boys Athletic Championships. After sounding a strong warning in the lower classes in 1956 and 1957, Johnson rose to full national attention in 1958 when he broke the Class One 100 yards record clocking 9.8 seconds to win the gold.  He later returned to capture first place in the 220 yards finals

With a solid reputation as a quality sprinter, Johnson left Jamaica in 1959 for Bakersfield Junior College in the United States, where he spent two years, then moved on to San Jose State University. It was there that he had the enviable distinction of equaling the world's 100 yards record of 9.3 seconds on four occasions in one season.

Johnson was an integral part of Jamaica's athletics campaign between 1959 and 1964.After making his debut with a bronze medal as part of the 4x100 yards relay team at the 1959 Pan
Am games, he was selected for the 1960 Olympic games in Rome where he reached the quarter-finals in the 100 and semi-finals in the 200. 

Johnson, who was making quite a name for himself on the European circuit, winning prestigious events such as the 100 yards at the Modest Relays, collected his second Bronze  for Jamaica when he anchored the 4X100yards relay team to third place at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia. Two years later he was back in the Olympics, helping Jamaica to equal the 4X100 yards record in one of the early rounds at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. Jamaica placed fourth in the finals.

With a recurring muscle injury, preventing him from displaying his best form, DJ retired from competitive track and field after the '64 Olympics and went fulltime into sports administration.
In 1967, he took a job with Carreras in their Sports Development Project and was later seconded to CAST ( now UTECH) as a track coach.

At CAST, DJ proved to be an exceptional coach, producing quality athletes such as National representatives, Evon Clarke and Anthony and Michael Davis. In addition he was instrumental in the formation of the awesome Bolts of Lightening relay team, the first Jamaican team to run under 40 seconds in the 4X100 metres on local soil. The Bolts had the distinction of winning eight consecutive national Club championship titles over the 4X100 metres distance. 

Johnson, whose CAST team has won the intercollegiate titles 13 times in the past 14 years, has been a dedicated fan of the Milo Western Relays since it's inception over 15 years ago.
" I marked out the track for the very first staging of this meet" Johnson said. " This meet is very good for our athletes, as it gives them a chance to test their readiness prior to Champs and the other major meets".

Johnson who is affectionately known in sporting circles as "DJ" has been chosen as the Patron of the 1997 Milo Western Relays based on his contribution to athletics. There is no question that this honor is richly deserved... and as the west honors this sporting giant, all of Jamaica should join in. Hats off to Dennis Johnson - athlete, administrator and coach extraordinaire.                                                                      Paul Reid 1997        

May 2021
I am glad that this tribute was made while Dr. "DJ" was still with us. He was very happy to receive it.

Milo Western Relays would not be what it is today without his contribution. He was a very valuable friend to me and to the meet. 

It will be very difficult to adjust to life without his presence, but his mission, that of developing Jamaica track and field will continue.

Ray Harvey
Meet Director
Milo Western Relays


Patrick Robinson , Teammate & Friend

Shared by Patrick Robinson on May 5, 2021
My greatest accomplishment was being part of something, a team, that at a point in time was adjudged to be 4th best in the world and indeed 4th best in Olympic history.
The team in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Jamaica's first ever venture in the Sprint Relay, broke the then Olympic record of 39.5 secs in placing 4th in 39.4 secs. The time done in Tokyo was a Jamaican record and indeed the best time ever done in The British Commonwealth, so Jamaica was awarded a British Commonwealth record as well.
I have one precious International Medal -- a bronze medal in the Sprint Relay in the Central American & Caribbean Games of 1962, held in Jamaica. It was in the first time a Track and Field meet was being held in the newly built National Stadium, which the week before hosted Jamaica's Independence formalities.
I write all this to affirm the very special place Dennis has in my life, because he was a teammate in both the Tokyo Olympics  in 1964 and the C.A.C. Games in 1962. He was integral to my greatest achievement.
As a Kingston College school boy in the 1950's, Dennis , a Calabar boy, was not my favorite person, especially after his embarrassing defeat of K.C's idol Mabricio Ventura.
But from the time we came together for C.A.C. Games in 1962 and for the ensuing 59 years , we have been good friends. 
The pioneering foursome ( Dennis, Lyndie Headley, Pablo McNeil and myself ) since 1962, share a unique bond of friendship -- lunching together , partying together over the years, separated only by the intervention of death.
Dennis, as others will no doubt expand on, was a track super star, a visionary, innovator, coach par excellence, and a worthy role model.

Sincere condolences to Peter and the rest of the family.
Jamaica has lost a true son.
Farewell Dennis. 
Rest in Peace.

Sports Illustated article: A New Sprinter for the Speed Master by Roger Williams May 22nd, 1961

Shared by Leroy Cooke on May 2, 2021
At 8:24 last Saturday night, a tall, lithe Negro from San Jose State College named Dennis Johnson jogged easily in the dim light behind a wire fence set at the head of the 220-yard straightaway in Fresno (Calif.) State College's Ratcliffe Stadium. When Starter Tom Moore called to the eight finalists in the West Coast Relays 100-yard dash, "Runners to your blocks," Johnson took off his sweatsuit, stepped through a door in the fence and walked slowly to the starting line. The man who many now think maybe the fastest runner in the world was the slowest to get ready.

Moore called the runners to a set position and Johnson, whose reluctance to rise to the same set as other runners have made him as controversial as he is fast (SI, May 8), for once came up quickly—perhaps too quickly, for he broke and was charged with a false start. Moore called Johnson back, and this time Jim Bates of the University of Southern California broke. Johnson, who wasn't going to get caught again, remained anchored at his blocks. The third try was a success. Coming to a set more slowly than the others, Johnson was last to get off. Immediately he started to make up ground. At 40 yards he was even with the leader, Doug Smith of Occidental. At 60 he had the lead. Striding gracefully and looking remarkably relaxed, he crossed the finish line a yard ahead of Smith to win his 11th straight race this year. His time was 9.4, his third 9.4 of the spring. He has also run three 100s in 9.5, four in 9.3 (tying the world record held by nine others) and, with an eight-mph wind behind him, one in 9.2. Once again San Jose State noted for its speed men were out in front in the dashes.
Noted? Well, yes, although for many Americans, San Jose State is merely a vaguely recollected name, a memory of an Olympic year and a disappointing sprinter named Ray Norton. In point of fact, San Jose State is neither small (14,000 students and growing frantically) nor insignificant. Athletically, it has one of the best track teams in the country and the best sprint coach, Lloyd C. (Bud) Winter. But in some ways, it is a wonder the college has a team at all. The track budget is $3,800, from one-fifth to one-tenth the size of budgets at other schools. The facilities would discredit the average high school: the track is often as hard and baked as a sandlot infield: the locker rooms, built in the 1920s, have been condemned several times; the permanent stands consist of a half dozen rows of splintery, sun-bleached wood, plus a few well-warmed and precarious seats on the tin roof of the locker rooms. Yet San Jose has turned out some notable track men: Pole Vaulter George Mattos, High Jumper Herm Wyatt. Javelin Thrower Bob Likens, Sprinter Norton and now Dennis Johnson.
A team with promise
This season San Jose has developed such strength in some events that Winter considers his team a real contender in the NCAA championships next month. Pole vaulters Dick Kimmell and Dick Gear have cleared 15 feet, Kimmell for the first time Saturday with a leap of 15 feet 1½ inches. Willie Williams, the only man to beat Johnson this season, has run a 46.3 quarter mile leg in a mile relay. Ron Clark has covered two miles in 8:55. Both Dan Studney and Harry Edwards have scaled the discus over 173 feet, and Studney holds a 244 feet 4 inches mark in the javelin. Gene Zubrinsky has high jumped 6 feet 10, although he is just as likely to go 6 feet 2 inches.

Winter's finest performers are the 100-yard-dash men. Besides Johnson and Williams, he has Bob Poynter, who has been clocked in 9.4 and maybe second only to Johnson when he is in condition. Out of competition and recovering from a back injury is Jimmy Omagbemi, who ran for Nigeria in the last Olympics and who is, at 31, one of the oldest sprinters in the world. Omagbemi, a cheerful, cultured fellow, ran a blazing 20.5 220 in the 1960 Pacific AAU meet and has twice run 9.4 hundred; one of those, in 1959, beat Olympic Champion Armin Hary. "I gave Hary a little surprise package," says Omagbemi with a wide grin. "We were running in his home town in Germany and everybody was watching him. No one even looked at me until the finish, and there I was—first. He's been afraid of me ever since."

Winter's success with sprinters dates back to Hal Davis at Salinas (Kansas) Junior College. Winter himself, as a student at California, was an undistinguished dash man and a reserve end on the football team. He went to Salinas in the mid-'30s as a journalism instructor, public relations man, track and football coach, and was well on his way to athletic obscurity when Davis arrived. Almost overnight Davis, Winter and Salinas became big names among track people. Davis ran the 100 in 9.4, the 220 in 20.4, and whipped the best sprinters of his time.

When Winter went to San Jose in 1942, the deal called for Davis to go with him. Davis, however, enrolled at California, where he ran against—and beat—his old coach's sprint men.
A recruiting zealot, soft-spoken but persuasive Bud Winter soon had a steady stream of fine track prospects flowing into San Jose State. Even Hary came under the Winter wing, for three hectic days. That was in August of 1959 when Hary and Dutch broad jumper Henk Visser came to San Jose for a look around. Winter had invited Visser who, Winter says, had, in turn, invited Hary. Winter, of course, knew of Hary, but he did not know of his educational philosophy. Visser and Hary apparently wanted treatment in the European manner—a big hotel, liberal charge privileges and no serious studies or outside work. San Jose's budget and principles could not tolerate this. Visser went off to Bakersfield Junior College and Hary went back to Germany, without even setting foot on Winter's track.

Before Johnson, Winter's finest runner at San Jose State was Norton. When he was running easily, there was no faster man in the world. But Norton often became tense. At such times he was just another very fast track man who could lose a race, as he did against Hary and four others in the 1960 Olympics. According to Winter, Norton was trying too hard, and that is the worst thing a runner can do. Johnson has no such problem. The slender, muscular Jamaican seems certain to cut the 100-yard-dash record to 9.2, and he knows it. "I should break the record this year," says Johnson with no trace of boastfulness. "I'll do it the next time I get some real competition. I feel I can run 9.3 any time now. But to make 9.2 you have to fight the coaches and timers, and everything has to be just right."

Johnson's "fight" with coaches and timers began early this spring when Occidental Coach Chuck Coker charged him with delaying his move to the set position, thereby getting a "rolling" start on competitors. Winter and Johnson denied the charge, pointing out that AAU rules specified an immediate but not an abrupt move to get set. Johnson got a bad start in the Mt. San Antonio Relays three weeks ago but still ran his unofficial 9.2. That quieted the controversy, but it still rankles Johnson. "It's so stupid," he says in staccato Jamaican English. "Rising slowly has very little to do with my style. It just keeps me relaxed by leaving me straining at set for less time than the others. The short piston arm stroke is what's important."
The piston stroke is one of the lessons Winter learned from Hary last summer while he was serving as an Olympic coach. "Hary did three things I think are important," Winter says. "First, he reversed the standard American arm action of the short left, high right. He pumped his arms rapidly to help his getaway. Second, he kept his butt down in the set position, and went forward and up, not down and up as we do on the start. This gave him a faster and longer first step, and a short, driving second step. Third, he set his blocks about four inches farther back from the starting line, which helped keep him low." Since last fall Winter has pounded away at the new theory and all the San Jose sprinters have pared down their times, some by several tenths of a second.
Herb McKenley's pupil
Johnson, now 22 and a junior, has been running competitively since he was 12. His high school coach and hero was Herb McKenley, Jamaica's world-renowned quarter-miler. Under McKenley's coaching, Johnson learned how to run straight without bouncing around. He accepted an offer from track-conscious Bakersfield Junior College and entered there in 1959. He was so good that soon he was bombarded with offers, many more lucrative than San Jose's. But Johnson had read and followed Winter's sprinting theories and he decided to enroll. Winter's gentle kidding and protective counsel made an immediate hit with Johnson. Today the two smother each other with verbal posies. Johnson is happy at San Jose and has rejected offers to go elsewhere.

San Jose gives Johnson only modest financial support. The school pays his tuition (about $160 a semester) and has arranged a counselling job at the nearby Santa Clara Youth Village. He is given $50 a month in work aid, which is half the amount paid by some senior members of the team. Johnson, his wife Yvonne and their baby daughter live frugally in a small, drab apartment near the campus. "We were in a hotel for weeks," says Johnson with some bitterness. "No one wanted to rent to Negroes, because 'the neighbours might object.' I hope we can find a better apartment this summer."

San Jose is regarded with suspicion by some of its West Coast rivals. "Winter plays down his recruiting activity," said a northwest college publicity man recently, "but he works hard as hell at it. You don't get guys from Jamaica and Nigeria by sitting back and waiting for them to come to you." A Los Angeles track authority charged: "The academic requirements are so low up there anyone can get in, and stay in. They get a lot of dummies no one else can keep."
To this characteristic bit of big-school backbiting. Winter replies with an angry overstatement. "San Jose is one of the outstanding institutions in the country," he says. "We aim for solid, practical preparation of students, not high-level research work. We've seen boys turned down here get into other schools. Some of them have run against us this year. And we don't stress foreign athletes; they usually get in touch with us first."

The Winter coaching techniques bear strong overtones of science and pseudo-science. There are weight programs, special foods and vitamins and psychological warfare. Winter's desk drawers are loaded with such health goodies as phosphate salts and wheat-germ oil. In the school labs, nutrition experts weigh the usefulness of far-out diets, and try some out on the athletes. Winter's motto is "If it works use it." He is not particularly concerned about what "it" is.

The most honoured mystique in Winter's program is relaxation, mental and physical. "Watch my sprinters at the finish line," he says. "You don't see any contorted faces. The jaw and forearm are relaxed, the hands are loose." Winter helped develop and teach methods of relaxation to pilots during World War II, and he has become their faithful apostle. Usually, the instruction is limited to trackside admonitions like "loose jaw, loose hands," but sometimes Winter turns on a full treatment that borders on hypnosis. "I sit the boy down alone somewhere and talk each muscle into relaxing. I start from the wrinkles in the forehead and work down through the eyes, the jaw, the shoulders, and so on. 'Calm' is my keyword. 'You're calm now, calm.' " Whether it is hypnosis, induced sleepwalking or what, the method does seem to work and Johnson is Winter's best advertisement yet.

To this characteristic bit of big-school backbiting. Winter replies with an angry overstatement. "San Jose is one of the outstanding institutions in the country," he says. "We aim for solid, practical preparation of students, not high-level research work. We've seen boys turned down here get into other schools. Some of them have run against us this year. And we don't stress foreign athletes; they usually get in touch with us first."

MEN OF SPEED, Johnson and Coach Bud Winter, kid confidently before Saturday's race.