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1961 Mr. America – Information needed

There is a need to identify the next of kin (children, siblings) of 1961 AAU Mr. America and NABBA Mr. Universe, Ray Routledge.  If you have any information that might lead to his children (a 1961 news report stated that he had five at that time).  Please call the phone number listed in both the Coroner’s announcement and newspaper article below.

Coroner Case 700808520–The San Bernardino County, CA, Sheriff’s Department-Coroner Division is asking for public assistance. On 11/12/2008 Raymond Routledge age 77, died in San Bernardino. He is believed to have been a resident of Utah, and the San Bernardino area for some time. It is believed that Routledge was a professional body builder between 1953 and 1979 when he won many competitions including several Mr. America titles and Amateur Mr. Universe in 1961. Anyone with information as to his family is urged to contact the Coroner’s Division 909-387-2978. [111308 0745 SY]


[News Reprint Below]

No spotlights in death for former champion bodybuilder

San Bernadino Press-Enterprise
Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stories of his Mr. America crowns and muscle magazine covers never made it to the low-income senior housing complex in San Bernardino.

Ray Routledge was found dead there Wednesday amid piles of political newspaper clippings and a half-written letter to a senator, but according to those who knew him, no signs of his heyday as a world-class bodybuilder.

“You never see him talking to nobody,” said Elias Flores, the maintenance worker at Telacu Sierra Vista. “He’s a person who didn’t come out too much.”

His death at age 77 — after a long bout with cancer — is not suspicious, officials said. But it marked a solitary, anonymous end to an accomplished life that included Mr. America and Mr. Universe titles in the same year.

San Bernardino County coroner’s investigators recovered Routledge’s body but have been unable to locate his family. They asked Thursday for the public’s assistance.

“He was basically a lonely guy,” said Margaret Gabriel, resident manager at the Telacu Sierra Vista complex and one of Routledge’s closest companions. “He didn’t have many friends, but if you approached him, he was friendly and had a wealth of information.”

Other than a passing mention of a career in law enforcement, service in the military and a fleeting mention of a son, Gabriel knew nothing of Routledge’s past.

There were no trophies or medals inside his small downtown apartment. No framed magazine covers showed the man at his bronzed and muscular peak.

“Unfortunately there’s a lot of old time bodybuilders who end up like that and get lost,” said Tim Fogarty, a Los Angeles-based archivist for the sport who started from his collection of 3,000 muscle magazines. “And there’s a lot of fans who would have liked to help.”

At his apartment, the biggest hint Routledge ever gave to acquaintances about his past was mentioning the original Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach. He also had a penchant for health food supplements that never stopped.

“Even in his poor health and cancer, he was still so careful and vigilant about his diet and how he took care of his body,” Gabriel said Thursday.

Fogarty said that Routledge’s amateur Mr. Universe victory coupled with the Mr. America title in 1961 would have made him a big name.

“He was world famous in some ways,” Fogarty said. “Those were the two biggest competitions, and everyone in America would have known the current Mr. America.”

That contest was more than just bodybuilding, including judging in grooming, interviews, and overall appearance.

“It was very much the equivalent to Miss America,” Fogarty said. “It was meant to show the ideal representative of the American male.”

Routledge is listed as competing in bodybuilding competitions into the 1970s, and various Internet sites mention his workouts at the famous Vince’s gym in Hollywood, where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger once lifted weights.

In Schwarzenegger’s 1993 autobiography, focused on his bodybuilding years, he writes of seeing Routledge and others in the early muscle magazines. Routledge appeared on the cover of eight such publications through 1968.

A neighbor last saw Routledge Tuesday. The woman heard him moan and went to his door to see if he was OK, Gabriel said. He assured her he was fine.

On Wednesday, Gabriel checked on him shortly before 5 p.m. When she got no answer, she called paramedics and entered with the apartment. He was dead in a bathtub.

But Gabriel said Routledge frequently debated politics — especially terrorism and border control — and clipped articles he found interesting to show her.

He was writing one of his many letters to legislators when he died. The letters were a passion for Routledge, as was music. The former bodybuilder excitedly played new CDs for his apartment manager, bringing his large, non-portable player down to the office to “serenade” her.

“Anything he said still had style and grace,” Gabriel said, recalling country and western standards and Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin collections.

Coroner’s officials did reach an ex-wife, who is not considered next of kin. She told them about his bodybuilding and mentioned at least one son. A previous ex-wife is deceased, said coroner’s spokeswoman Sandy Fatland.

Routledge used to live in Utah and may have used the last name Kowan at times, but little else is clear.

“I don’t want this to be the end of the story,” Fatland said.

Anyone with information on Routledge’s family may call coroner’s officials at 909-387-2978. 

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