In Memoriam

Thomas Fairfax Johnson (1917-2007)

Thomas F. Johnson, who served on the Howard University faculty for 32 years, died late last month at a nursing home in Silver Spring, Maryland, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 90 years old.

Professor Johnson joined the Howard University faculty in 1946. He also coached swimming, baseball, and football at Howard. He became a research assistant at the Howard Medical School in 1958 and rose to the rank of associate professor. In 1974 Johnson founded the school of Allied Health Sciences at Howard. In 1975 he was appointed associate dean for student affairs for the graduate school at Howard. He retired in 1978.

Johnson was a graduate of Springfield College and held a master’s degree in health and physical education from New York University and a doctorate from the University of Maryland. In addition to his academic career, Johnson played professional baseball in the Negro leagues and later was a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Harold Frank Reis (1917-2007)

Harold Reis, a career attorney at the Justice Department who was one of the lawyers dispatched to Oxford, Mississippi, in 1962 to insure the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi, died from cancer at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 90 years old.

Reis, a graduate of City College of New York and Columbia Law School, was actively involved in civil rights and voting law during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. A white man, Reis retired from government service in 1967 but practiced law for another 30 years.

Eddie Robinson (1918-2007)

Eddie Robinson, one of the greatest college football coaches of all time, died last week at the age of 88. Robinson had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for the past decade.

Eddie Robinson, the son of a cotton sharecropper and a house maid, began coaching at Grambling in 1941 when the institution was known as the Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute. He had no paid assistants or trainers. Robinson had to chalk the yard lines onto the field himself.

Over the course of his career at Grambling, Robinson won 408 college football games. At the time of his retirement this was the most wins ever achieved by a college football coach. Over his 57-year career Robinson had only eight losing seasons. His teams won 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference championships. More than 200 of his players went on to careers in the National Football League.