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Eppie Johnson, Founder of "Eppie's Great Race," Dies

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Eppie Johnson was a Sacramento restaurateur and philanthropist.  He owned a chain of restaurants throughout Northern California, and started the "Eppie's Great Race" triathlon in the 1970's.

The annual event, which takes place on the American River Parkway, and involves kayaking, cycling and running, has raised more than $1 million dollars for programs that help mentally and physically challenged people in Sacramento County.

Johnson's family says he died in his sleep this past weekend. 

Eppie Johnson appeared on Capital Public Radio's Insight in June; about a month after he turned 85.  Host Beth Ruyak asked him about the milestone.

"At 85 years old, I feel pretty good.  I've got grandchildren and I've got recognition in the community and I've gotten into the position that I think the great race is part of Sacramento's fabric and there's people behind me, they're going to keep it going."

Johnson said his son George has stepped into his father's shoes to organize "Eppie's Great Race."  "Hopefully we can train my grandson to do the same thing.  Maybe we can get this thing going for generations.  Who knows?"

Johnson's 10-year-old grandson is also named Eppie, after his grandfather.

Ruyak also asked Johnson whether he had anything on his "bucket list" - anything he'd still like to do, and he said no.

The "Eppie's Great Race" committee says next July's race will take place as planned.

0917 eppie johnson facebook image

Eppie Johnson, from the Eppie's Great Race Facebook page


Listen Beth Ruyak's June, 2013 interview with Eppie Johnson here:


Marianne Russ

Former Managing Editor, News

Marianne served as Capital Public Radio’s Managing Editor for News through July 2015.  Read Full Bio 

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