Retired NYRA Employee Johnson Dies

Bill Johnson assisted New York announcer Cappy Capossela

(Edited NYRA release)

Bill Johnson, a lifelong racetracker and longtime employee of the New York Racing Association, died Aug. 7 of pancreatitis. He was 76.

Johnson worked as an assistant to track announcer Fred “Cappy” Capossela early in his career in the 1950s and later was director of radio and television for NYRA. He co-hosted the radio show “Breakfast at the Track” with the late Harry Downey on WGY in Schenectady, N.Y., and also worked on various handicapping television shows in the 1980s in the Albany area.

In 1990, Johnson founded and began publishing the annual magazine “Saratoga Summer,” which covered racing and Saratoga culture. The magazine will continue, said his daughter, Lisa Barber.

Born in Lansingburgh, N.Y., Johnson served with the Army in the Korean War, acting as the announcer for the Army basketball team’s games. He also worked closely with Alcoholics Anonymous for the past 29 years.

Most of all, Barber said, her father loved the racetrack and spent equal time with management and backstretch workers. Barber also recalled her father’s love for playing the horses.

“He’ll be missed at the $50 window,” she said with a laugh. “There is no inheritance, let’s put it that way.”

In addition to Barber, Johnson’s survivors include his brother John.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete, but Barber said she expects to hold a wake August 18 with a funeral the following day.