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R.S. Townsend; Travel Champ of Greyhound

October 25, 1986

The transportation devotee recognized by Greyhound Bus Lines as America's long-distance champion, has died at the age of 85.

Raymond (Ray) S. Townsend, who died in his Santa Barbara home Oct. 11, took his first long trip in 1973--shortly after retiring--a test of his endurance that took him through all 48 contiguous states plus Quebec and Ontario provinces in Canada and Juarez, Mex. The marathon bus journey lasted 21 days, 2 hours and 30 minutes.

In 1975 he logged 11,000 miles in 15 days to see the World Series in the fall of 1975 after running up 21,000 miles in 30 days just a few months earlier.

"I've had some adventures," he told the Chicago Tribune in a 1976 interview. "I was mugged in New York on my way to the bus station after seeing the Pirates and the Mets at Shea Stadium."

He traveled economically, purchasing Greyhound's Ameripass, which then cost $200 and was good for 30 days travel anywhere in Canada and the 48 contiguous states.

Greyhound used him to promote their service, quoting Townsend as saying: "Those Americruisers sleep better than a hotel bed."

The company once used him in a television commercial with actor Fred MacMurray.

Townsend was filled with travel tips, particularly for his fellow retirees.

"(For) older people, when you go to get on a bus, if you're traveling alone, let the bus fill halfway up. You pick who you want to sit with," he once advised. "Otherwise, somebody will come along and spoil your whole trip. If there's a bad-looking bunch, pick out the best one you can."

Townsend had owned a sportswear store in San Francisco and moved to Santa Barbara in 1972, four years after retiring.

Townsend is survived by his friend and traveling companion, Ruth W. Schmidt of Santa Barbara, but had no known relatives.

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