Golf World Mourns Loss of a Giant in William "Bill" Dickey
|The golf world mourns the loss of a giant in the industry with the passing this past week of William "Bill'' Dickey, founder and president emeritus of the Bill Dickey Scholarship Association (BDSA), an organization that has contributed more than $3 million to the higher education of more than 1,000 young minorities in the past 31 years. He was 84 years old and a resident of Phoenix for more than 50 years. He is survived by his wife Alice, daughter Dorina, four grandsons, Paul, Estaban, Dom and Demetrious and four great grandchildren, Madison, Andrew, Autumn and Psymon and one great-great granddaughter, Evie and three sons-in-law, Les, Charles, and Johnnie, nephew and nieces. Bill had two daughters that preceded his death, Susie and Deborah.|
Dickey was arguably the best-known champion of the grass-roots minority golf movement. He was a light in the lives of those he touched during his many years of philanthropy and service to his fellow man.
o extend my sincere thanks to our generous partners, key corporate leaders, individual donors and members. With your help and participation, we have been able to offer assistance in educating minority youth from communities through out the nation. It is an honor and a privilege for the Bill Dickey Scholarship Association to have awarded $3.1 million in scholarships to over 1000 students.
"I was very sorry to hear about the passing of Bill Dickey,'' said PGA Tour superstar Tiger Woods, one of those golfers assisted by the BDSA. "He was a wonderful man and made significant contributions to the game of golf. What he did for minorities in golf is immeasurable.'' Dickey's rich legacy in golf began in the mid-1950s, when, upon discharge from the Air Force, he moved from his native Philadelphia to Phoenix. He obtained a degree in economics and management from Arizona State University in 1956 and a couple years later joined a group called the Desert Mashie Golf Club at Encanto Park. "We couldn't join already formed clubs because of the color of our skin,'' said Dickey during a tribute to him celebrating the BDSA's 30th anniversary. "It was difficult, but over time things changed. The Mashies became an affiliate of the Western States Golf Association (WSGA) and in 1981 I was elected president of the WSGA. During that time we established the first WSGA Junior Championship that was held at El Rancho Verde CC in San Bernardino. That was the beginning of my desire to promote junior golf.''
Dickey not only tirelessly promoted junior golf he also participated in a national movement to diversify the game. At the first Minority Golf Symposium held in 1992, Dickey and other activists rubbed elbows with industry leaders while pushing the cause of inclusion. Among the attendees were Earl Woods, John Merchant, the first African-American member of the United States Golf Association Executive Committee, and Joe Louis Barrow, Jr., the future chief executive of The First Tee.
"The argument and case could be made quite easily that Bill started the movement for inclusion of young, diverse competitive players in the game,'' said Barrow. "He was a mentor to many of us and a leader to all, for which I am personally grateful. We all feel the pain of his passing yet must be inspired to assure his legacy continues with greater resolve and determination."
The finance associated with Dickey's resolve and determination had meager beginnings, $1,500 to be exact. That's how much the inaugural East-West Golf Classic, which pitted amateurs against each other from both coasts, netted after expenses in 1983. The next one a year later, however, raised enough funds to award four scholarships to students at Prairie View A&M. Thus the National Minority Junior Golf Scholarship Association was born that year (1984) and continues to be a vibrant force in educating young, minority golfers through the BDSA.
Bill was also one of the early members of the National Negro Golf Association (NNGA). This organization started a golf championship event for the black colleges. This led to the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship
In 2000, the first Bill Dickey Invitational Junior Golf Championship was held to identify college scholarship candidates and to provide an internationally recognized and highly competitive venue for the country's top minority junior golf talent. Each year approximately 40-44 boys and girls are selected to participate.
Dickey received many honors throughout his blessed life, including the PGA of America's Distinguished Service Award in 1999. He was the first African American to receive the coveted award.
"Our great leaders of today speak about the importance of a multi-cultural society, a better educated workforce and the need for greater personal respect and values,'' said Joe Steranka, CEO of the PGA of America. "Bill Dickey embraced those enlightened concepts almost 30 years ago when he began the National Minority Junior Golf Association. Along the way he opened the eyes of hundreds of young people who he served as well as dozens of golf industry leaders who he served with; in the process making the faces of golf look more like the face of America. He earned our association's highest honor for his dedication to the game and he earned my unwavering friendship for his counsel on making the PGA more inclusive. Though I will miss my friend, his spirit will live on in me and the many others who he touched.''
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