John Royce "Johnny" Mathis was born in Gilmer, TX, to Clem Mathis and Mildred Boyd. The family moved to San Francisco, where he grew up. Mathis was a star athlete at George Washington HS in SF. He was a high jumper hurdler, he played on the basketball team. In 1954, he enrolled at SF State Univ. on an athletic scholarship, intending to become an English teacher physical education teacher.
Late 1930's. German, Austrian and Czechoslovakian children of Jewish descent were permitted to leave their countries and families on the Kindertransport; a train bound for Britain. These children ranged in age from infant to 17 and were placed with families in Britain. Many never saw their parents again.