It has been over a century since the Cornell men’s tennis program first hit the court for collegiate play, and perhaps nobody has been more at the forefront of supporting the team than the family of Richard A. Johnson ’57 and Dale Reis Johnson ’58.
On Friday, it was announced that the couple continued the family tradition by making a $1.5 million donation that will bolster the assistant coach’s position, thereby establishing the Dick ’57 and Dale Reis Johnson ’58 Assistant Coach of Tennis, according to the University. That position is currently held by Bruno Santarelli.
“We first got involved when the men’s tennis team won the Ivy League Championship [in 2011],” Richard told The Cornell Chronicle. “We called [Athletic Director] Andy Noel to see what we could do to most help the program since we had just become trustees of the L.S. Reis Fund. He said that the men’s and women’s teams did not have assistant coaches, so we agreed to fund them.”
The Johnsons have also pledged to provide current-use gifts, on an annual basis, to help fund the women’s program and eventual assistant coaching position.
“One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is the opportunity to build relationships with Cornell alumni,” Noel said. “Dick and Dale are two of my favorite people to spend time with — they are caring and thoughtful … Piece-by-piece, through their loyal generosity and unstinting enthusiasm for the program, Dick and Dale have provided an invaluable foundation of support for tennis.”
Dale Johnson’s family, specifically, has spent much of their adult lives supporting Cornell, both inside and outside of tennis. In 1994, the Reis Tennis Center opened following a donation from her parents, L. Sanford Reis ’29, a former editor of a column for The Sun entitled “The Berry Patch,” and Josephine Mills Reis ’29. Dale’s late brother, Curtis Reis ’56, and his wife, Pam, have also been longtime benefactors to the program.
The family’s donations to Cornell extend far beyond athletics. His philanthropic endeavors are responsible for the main stage at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts and renovation of the Fall Creek hydroelectric plant, according to the University.