Remembering Joy Johnson

Joy Kratzke Johnson alumna of the School of Kinesiology sadly passed away the day after running her 25th New York City Marathon on November 3, 2013. She was the oldest female finisher at 86 years old and impressively completed the marathon in 7:57:41.

Joy earned her B.S. in Physical Education (’52) from the Department of Physical Education for Women (which later become today’s School of Kinesiology). She grew up on a Minnesota dairy farm in Duluth MN., where she later returned after college to teach physical education and math. After a few years of teaching in Duluth, she decided to move to California where she attended San Jose State University and received her Master’s degree. She was a passionate coach and teacher but it was not until the age of 59 that she began running herself.

courtesy of USA Today
courtesy of USA Today

A close friend suggested they train and run in the New York Marathon in 1988. Every year since then Joy had devoted part of her life to running. She participated in various running events during the year but always made sure to run in the annual New York Marathon. Joy finished her 25th New York Marathon, persevering until the end of the race even though she took a fall near mile 20.

This past June, Joy wrote into the University alumni magazine reflecting on her time at the University of Minnesota. She remarked that the memories she made while attending school here positively resonates with her everyday and that the reason she was able to find work so easily and quickly when she transitioned to California was because of her degree from the University of Minnesota. Joy was clearly a wonderful teacher, coach, and friend that impacted many people’s lives. She will be greatly missed.

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