2009 In Memoriam
At the close of each year, the United States Golf Association recognizes USGA champions, volunteers, staff members and other friends and authorities of the game who passed away during the previous 12 months. Below is a list of some of those we lost in 2009.
John Atkinson, 40, of Omaha, Neb., died of lung cancer on June 11. Facing a tough battle with that disease, Atkinson was selected to play in the inaugural Golf Digest U.S. Open challenge over the U.S. Open Championship layout at Torrey Pines G.C. in 2008.
Andrew J. Blau, 73, of Pittsfield, Mass., died on Dec. 31. He was a member of the USGA Regional Affairs Committee in 2008 and 2009. Blau worked many tournaments as a rules official for the Massachusetts Golf Association and the New England Golf Association.
Gene Borek, 72, of Hartsdale, N.Y., died April 14. He was a 48-year member of the PGA of America. In the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont, he fired a 65 in the second round to establish a course record at the layout, only to see it fall two days later when Johnny Miller shot a 63 in the fourth round to win the championship.
Marge Burns, 83, of Greensboro, N.C., a 10-time North Carolina Women’s Amateur, died June 3. Burns virtually dominated mid-South women’s amateur golf for two decades. She captured six Women’s Carolina titles and was the 1951 Women’s Eastern Amateur champion. She played in the U.S. Women’s Open five times and competed in 12 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships, advancing to the fourth round in 1953 and ’58. Burns won the Harder Hall Invitational on the Florida winter amateur circuit five times. After becoming a professional and turning to teaching in the 1970s, she was named the 1976 LPGA Teacher of the Year.
Pearl Carey, 96, of Seaside, Calif., recipient of the 2005 Joe Dey Award and a member of the USGA Regional Affairs Committee, died Feb. 23. As a member of the Western States Golf Association (WSGA), one of the oldest African-American golf associations, she held numerous positions and championed programs to open the game to minorities. Carey implemented the Seaside Junior Golf Program in 1997. She was the former Monterey-area Director of the Pacific Women’s Golf Association and was president in 1994. She was given the 2002 California Golf Writers Association Golden State Award for lifetime service to the game and especially to junior and women’s golf. In 2003, she received the Helen Lengfeld Award from the Pacific Women’s Golf Association for outstanding service.
Helen Carter of Palm City, Fla., died March 12 at the age of 81. She was a past president of the Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association.
Mallory Code, 25, a frequent USGA competitor who inspired others with cystic fibrosis and diabetes, died Nov. 9 in Tampa, Fla. She played in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship five times, advancing to the quarterfinals in 2000, and twice played in the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Despite suffering from cystic fibrosis, Code won four American Junior Golf Association titles, including the 2000 AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions. She was a former member of the University of Florida golf team.
Carolyn Cudone, the only golfer to win five consecutive USGA championships, died March 19 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., at age 90. Cudone won the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship from 1968 to 1972. She won the New Jersey Women's Amateur five times, 11 New Jersey stroke-play and five Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association match-play titles. Cudone also won the 1958 North & South Women’s Amateur and the 1960 Women’s Eastern Amateur. She was a member of the 1956 USA Curtis Cup Team, where she clinched her lone match, a foursomes encounter with Mary Ann Downey against Janette Robertson and Veronica Anstey, 6 and 4. Cudone was part of a little-known slice of history in the 1956 U.S. Women’s Amateur. In the first round of match play at the Country Club of Indianapolis, she defeated Ann Gregory, the first African-American woman to compete in a USGA championship. She started the Myrtle Beach Junior Golf Program to encourage juniors 28 years ago.
Gordon "Joe" Ewen, 93, former member of the USGA Executive Committee who established the annual Joe Dey Award, died Feb. 27 in Winnetka, Ill. Ewen served on the Executive Committee from 1975 to 1980. He was a member of the Rules of Golf Committee and the Museum Committee and chaired the Handicap Committee. In 2000, he received the Ike Grainger Award for 25 years of volunteer service to the USGA. He was elected to the board of the Western Golf Association in 1969 and served as its president in 1978 and 1979. In addition, he was a trustee of the Evans Scholars Foundation and chairman of the Foundation's fundraising "Par Club." His daughter Cece Durbin is a member of the USGA Women's Committee.
Dr. Richard Ho, 82, a former member of the USGA Regional Affairs Committee, died May 14. He organized the Hawaii State Golf Association in 1984.
Betty Jameson, 89, the 1939 and 1940 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and 1947 U.S. Women’s Open champion, died Feb. 7 in Boynton Beach, Fla. She was a founder of the Ladies Professional Golf Association and a member of the LPGA Hall of Fame. At 13, she won the 1932 Women’s Texas Public Links and at 15 won the Women’s Southern Amateur and the first of four consecutive Women’s Texas Amateur Championships. In 1940, she accomplished a rare “triple,” winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur, the Women’s Western Amateur and the Women’s Trans-Mississippi. As an amateur Jameson won three professional war-time tournaments, the 1938 Women’s Texas Open and the 1942 and ’44 Women’s Western Open and turned professional in 1945. Jameson won the 1947 U.S. Women’s Open with a score of 295, the first time a woman had broken 300 for 72 holes.
Paul G. Jenkins, 81, a USGA Executive Committee member from 1991 to 1993 and a past president of the Southern California Golf Association, died Nov. 5 in Indian Wells, Calif. Jenkins was the tournament chairman of the PGA Tour’s Bob Hope Desert Classic in 1967. He joined the SCGA board of directors in 1979 and became its president in 1992.
Robert “Skee” Reigel, 94, a two-time USA Walker Cup player who won the 1947 U.S. Amateur, died Feb. 22. A member of the USA Walker Cup Teams in 1947 and 1949, he had a perfect 4-0 record in singles and foursomes play. Reigel competed in 16 U.S. Opens and 11 consecutive Masters, finishing runner-up in 1951 to Ben Hogan. He played in the PGA Championship nine times. When World War II began, Reigel went to flight school in Miami and while there won the 1942 Florida State Amateur Championship.
Lamont “Monty” Kaser, of Wichita, Kan., the 1966 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, died Sept. 18 at the age of 67. When he won the championship on his fourth attempt, Kaser, then 24, was employed in the payroll department of an aircraft factory.
John P. May, 89, died on April 29. He was the managing editor and senior editor of Golf Digest from 1954 to 1983.
Fordie Pitts Jr., 79, of Scituate, Mass., accomplished amateur golfer and a 20-year member of the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship Committee, died Oct. 27. Pitts won New England championships as early as the 1946 Massachusetts Caddie Championship and as recently as the 1998 New England Senior Open. He played in the first U.S. Junior Amateur in 1948 and played in the U.S. Amateur five times, the USGA Senior Amateur and three U.S. Senior Opens. In 1984, he shared low-amateur honors in the Senior Open. He was a co-owner of Hyannis Golf Club for a number of years and served as the longtime tournament director of the Southeastern Amateur.
Bill Powell, 93, of East Canton, Ohio, died on Dec. 31. Powell returned from service in the U.S. Army in World War II to find there were no public courses on which African-Americans could play in his hometown of East Canton. He then constructed his own course, Clearview Golf Course, and welcomed all races. He was honored in 2009 by The PGA of America with its Distinguished Service Award. Powell’s daughter, Renee Powell, is a member of the USGA’s U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship Committee.
John W. Riggle, 99, of Phoenix, Ariz., died on Oct. 31. He was a longtime USGA committee member and rules official, officiating in as many as seven championships a year. He was the co-founder and former president of the International Association of Golf Administrators and the Pacific Coast Golf Association. He was also in the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame, which he founded in 1971, and was executive director of the Arizona Golf Association in 1968.
Bob Rosburg, 82, 1959 PGA champion who broadcast numerous USGA championships as an on-course reporter for ABC Sports, died May 14 in Palm Springs, Calif. He was runner-up in the U.S. Open in 1959 and 1969, losing by one stroke both times.
Dick Rundle, 79, died in Dallas, Texas, on Aug. 7. He won the 2009 Joe Dey Award for his service to the USGA as a volunteer. In 1990, he began volunteering with the USGA as a rules official and was instrumental in organizing and running championship qualifying events in North Texas. A longtime referee at the U.S. Open and other USGA championships, he was named to the USGA Regional Affairs Committee in 1993.
Phyllis Semple, 87, of Sewickley, Pa., died Jan 18 in Delray Beach, Fla. She was a longtime member of the USGA Women’s Committee and Museum Committee and captain of the 1976 USA Women’s World Amateur Team. She won the 1964 Pennsylvania Women’s Amateur, the 1987 Pennsylvania Senior Women’s Amateur and reached the quarterfinals of the 1963 U.S. Women’s Amateur. She was the wife of the late Harton Semple, former USGA president, and the mother of seven-time USGA champion Carol Semple Thompson.
Charles William Stine, writer, editor and publisher, and founder of Golfweek, in 1975, died on March 3. He was 81.
Les Unger, longtime USGA staff member, died April 13 in Colorado Springs, Colo. With his wife, Jan Unger, he manned the media centers at many USGA championships through the years. He was best-known as the moderator of player interviews at the U.S. Open.
John Updike, 76, the American novelist, died Jan. 27 in Danvers, Mass. A dedicated golfer, he wrote and delivered a stunning essay on the game of golf at the USGA’s Centennial Celebration in 1994.
Toni Wiesner, 62, runner-up three times in the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, died July 27 in Fort Worth, Texas. She won four Women’s Texas Amateur Championships, the 1997 British Senior Women’s Amateur, the 1981 Women’s Southern Amateur and the 1993 Jones-Doherty Championship. Her 1998 Senior Women’s Amateur 18-hole score of 67 and 36-hole total of 135 are records. She qualified for more than 50 USGA national championships and was one of only two players to have played in all 22 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championships (through 2008). She was a four-time member of the Texas team in the USGA Women’s State Team Championship.