San Jose women, oldest to finish NYC marathon, dies day after race

Joy Johnson, a San Jose resident and the oldest woman to complete the New York City Marathon, died one day after the race.
November 5, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
For the past three years, San Jose's Joy Johnson held the record as the oldest woman to finish the New York Marathon. This weekend she crossed the finish line once again, but for the final time. She passed away the next day. ABC7 News takes a look at a woman who inspired so many.

Johnson ran her first New York Marathon after she retired at age 61 and kept on running it for the next 25 years.

Her daughter Diana Boydston said, "When she would run through the boroughs and people in every, the people would just cheer her on all the way."

At 86, she seemed unstoppable, but last Sunday joy stumbled in the New York Marathon and hit her head near the 20th mile. She finished the race, but the next day she said she was tired. Johnson took a nap and never woke up. The cause of her death is still unknown.

"She was a wonderful, wonderful person. We're going to miss her," said Johnson's neighbor Vince Maestri.

While her neighbors slept, Johnson was up at 5 a.m., almost every morning, running around the Willow Glen High School track where she used to be the P.E. teacher.

About the only thing that surpassed her physical and mental ability was her kindness.

"Every morning she would also pick up the papers for everybody that are on the driveways and bring them to our front door," said neighbor Tom Sutton.

"Well she was so good to everybody. So thoughtful, very, very thoughtful," said Maestri.

"She was a great cook and she baked bread for us. There wasn't anything that she didn't do," said Sutton.

The running world praised her for going the distance, but Johnson's neighbors say her took her compassion toward others a lot farther.