Obituary: Ron Johnson
Written by Ian Harrison and Ivan Lawler
Ron Johnson very sadly passed away in August at the impressive age of 93. The fact that this happened almost unnoticed by the osteopathic profession is a summary of the man he was. He was quiet, unassuming, and never chased the limelight, but his influence was profound on all the lives he touched in his long career.
Sir Isaac Newton said: ‘If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants’. This sums up his contribution to our profession. Ron was one of the ‘giants’ on whose shoulders so many of the current and past osteopaths stand and with his generation we would not have the professional and public support that we enjoy today.
We can only hope to do those giants proud by seeing even further, having others stand on our shoulders and continuing to build on their legacy. We were fortunate to have spent over four years under the supervision of that smiling, modest, loyal and gentle man as undergraduates and we were guided by his strong morals, ethics and his desire to teach, treat and support patients, students, staff and the profession. He treated everyone with the same energy and care regardless of their background – he was an equal opportunity osteopath.
Like everyone in the osteopathic community, we spend our day helping others. Most will be seeing patients, some will be supporting students on their educational journey, and some will be contributing to policy, charities and raising awareness to the wider community. Ron Johnson did all of these but in an era where osteopaths were still struggling for professional recognition.
Ron was an exceptional human being who was loved by more people than most of us will ever meet, he changed lives through his work, his personality, his mentoring, and his love for a profession that he and his generation pushed uphill for many years.
‘We were fortunate to have spent over four years under the supervision of that smiling, modest, loyal and gentle man as undergraduates and we were guided by his strong morals, ethics and his desire to teach, treat and support patients, students, staff and the profession. He treated everyone with the same energy and care regardless of their background – he was an equal opportunity osteopath.’
Working in elite sports
Ron followed his passion working within elite sports medicine in professional football treating players and staff at clubs like Crystal Palace, Queens Park Rangers, Woking, Wimbledon, Norwich, Watford, Bristol City, Yeovil….. His impact on sport, osteopathy as a modality in sport, and to the acceptance of osteopathy by mainstream sport medicine is immeasurable.
He was the first osteopath to support the British Olympic Squads attending the games at Los Angeles in 1984, Seoul Korea in 1988 and Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Ron also supported the British Canoeing Squad in European and World Championships 1983, 1986 and 1990.
His role in education
In education, Ron was also a pioneer with being a Founding Lecturer at the Hounslow College of Sports Therapy in the late 1970s and early 1980s and a lecturer at the London School of Osteopathy. However, his real legacy was the huge number of students he mentored in his fabulously busy Osteopathic Clinics in Surrey. Students would clamber for a place in his clinics where he saw patients from all walks of life with all manner of complaints giving the undergraduates the skills to manage a diverse group of patients with a diverse presentation of ailments, all under his kind and supportive gaze.
Osteopaths now work along side surgeons and anaesthetists, physicians and physios, podiatrists, radiographers etc…provide first contact assessment and treatment in GP practices and within NHS hospitals, are recommended in government guidelines, appear on television and the print media as experts in their field…all of this is thanks to our giants.
Be proud to stand on the shoulders of giants and then become a giant yourself and support your own friends, family, community or profession…Ron would love that.