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Gordon Sperry, Long Time Golf Volunteer, Passes Away
Golf heaven now has an official starter. Let the tournament begin—Gordon Sperry has arrived.
While golf in heaven is happy, golf in Utah is mourning the passing of Gordon Sperry. He died Friday, at the age of 81, from a late detected, fast moving cancer, and was surrounded by family and friends. His absence will leave a gaping hole in Utah golf tournaments.
He was a first tee constant for the Utah Golf Association, the Utah Section of the PGA, the Utah High School Activities Association, various touring professional events, many local amateur and professional tournaments and sundry charitable fund raising events.
He first began volunteering as the starter for the Utah Open in 1976 and has been doing that job ever since. He has also been a starter at every Utah State Amateur since then, along with almost every other UGA tournament.
He was the honored recipient of the UGA Gold Club Award in 1998 and that honor only invigorated his devotion to serving Utah golf whenever asked, no matter the task.
Toni Guest, the First Lady at the UGA for the past quarter century, said, “When we needed volunteers we were always looking for the second one because ‘Gordo’ was a certain first.”
He certainly holds the all-time record for most appearances as the official starter in Utah golf history, but he was also a dedicated course rater, score keeper, and lost ball finder. He suffered for many years with diabetes and took insulin shots daily, but even when not feeling the best he summoned the energy needed for the task at hand.
UGA Executive Director Bill Walker said, “Gordon was a tremendous volunteer and his passion for the UGA and game of golf was second to none. If you ever played in a UGA championship, odds are that Gordie was on the first tee welcoming you to the event and informing you of the rules of play for the day. Not only did he have an impact on many players he was well respected among his peers and served as a mentor to many of our new volunteers especially those interested in being a starter.”
Jim Harland President of the Utah Golf Association said ““I can recall working with Gordie at several UGA events. He was always personable to the players and sincerely interested in knowing them and in making sure they had all of the information they needed to participate. He was an extraordinary volunteer and went far beyond what you would normally expect in the way of service and dedication to the Association. I will miss our breakfasts together at the Soldier Hollow Grill before the State Am events. We will all miss his smiles and stories.”
Utah PGA Executive Director Scott Whittaker sand “We at the Utah Section PGA are very sadden at the passing of Gordon Sperry. I always equated Gordon’s first and last initials with “golden service”. We will all miss his even temperament and even handedness when making a ruling or starting a group in a golf tournament. But it will be the vast amount of “golden service” to the game of golf that will be missed most. He created a legacy of service that is unmatched around the state. There wasn’t a UGA or PGA event that was too far away or too inconvenient for him to attend as a volunteer. He endured many a rainy and cold event making sure that the starting tee ran on time and the scorecards were added and posted correctly.
I wonder how we will ever run this year’s high school championships without Gordon’s help. Neither the PGA’s President’s Award for Service to the Game of Golf in 2009 or his UGA Gold Club award quite covers Gordon Sperry’s long and dedicated service to Utah Golf. Everyone that has had the opportunity to serve alongside Gordon will miss his humble demeanor and the quiet efficiency he displayed while giving service to the game he loved.”
And yes, he had a life beyond golf.
He was born on May 26, 1932 in Nephi, Utah and graduated from Juab High School where he played baseball and basketball. In 1952 he married his high school sweetheart Diane McKay, and they have been a wonderful support system for each other. They raised three children, David, Nancy, and Suzanne Faddis. David passed away 22 years ago. They have six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
He served in the United States Air Force for four years during the Korean War, and graduated from the University of Utah in 1959 with a degree in accounting. He has been a rabid Utah fan ever since. At various times he has been an accountant, a building contractor, and an independent specialty sales rep.
His soul mate, Diane, worked for more than 20 years as the Business Manager of the University of Utah athletic department, and has been his major source of inspiration throughout his life.
A complete obituary will be published in The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News on Wednesday. The funeral services will be Friday.