Dr. Raymond B. Johnson, a retired Pfizer Inc. executive, was named Tuesday as this year’s recipient of the William Crawford Distinguished Service Award. The award, bestowed by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, honors an individual who has served to improve the quality of life in the region. Johnson, a retired senior associate director of clinical research for Pfizer, said he was honored, and humbled, to receive the coveted service award.
"I can’t tell you how much this means to me,"Johnson said during a ceremony at the regional chamber’s Gales Ferry headquarters."So many people along the way ... have helped to get me where I am,"said Johnson, "and I’ve tried in my life to never take that for granted." "This honor," he added, "is recognition to all these people." Johnson will be formally honored as this year’s Crawford award recipient during a chamber gala in November. Created in 1977, the award honors the late William Crawford, who owned WSUB radio and was an active member of the regional chamber.
Earlier this year, Johnson received an honorary doctor of science degree from Dartmouth College, his alma mater. "This is the culmination of a year that has been absolutely phenomenal," he said. Tony Sheridan, the chamber’s president, said the Crawford nominating committee had a superior roster of candidates to choose from but said Johnson " deserves this honor more than anyone else." "This is great news — and an award well earned," said Sheridan.
Johnson, a Noank resident, was involved in clinical development of a host of drugs during his career with Pfizer. The pharmaceutical giant honored Johnson with its Central Research Achievement Award for his contributions to its Zithromax antibiotic drug. Before his career with Pfizer, which has local campuses in Groton and New London, Johnson was a commanding officer at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md., where he oversaw a military and civilian staff of 2,500.
Johnson has been active in numerous local organizations over the years. For nearly two decades, he’s been a member of the board of trustees at the Waterford Country School. His leadership serving as both a board member and vice chairman resulted in the school naming a medical center in his honor. He also served seven of his nine years on the board of the Natchaug Hospital in Mansfield as chairman and completed his board tenure there earlier this year.
During his time at Natchaug, the behavioral-health hospital saw tremendous physical and clinical growth. The institution is affiliated with the Hartford Healthcare Corp. Johnson also is a corporator of The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich and the Dime Bank, also in Norwich. This past year, Johnson received a lifetime achievement award from Connecticut’s African American Affairs Commission. Johnson and his wife, Arlene, have four children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.