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The decision to honor Tallahassee's Gary Phillips (1960-2015) by establishing a scholarship in his name with Red Hills Junior Golf was made because of the type of man he was. He was always looking for ways that he could help others. He loved the sport of golf. It was a connection he had with his Dad, who took him out on the course with him when Gary was six years old. Gary caddied for his Dad at that young age and picked up a lot by osmosis. I’m sure his dad had him out there hitting balls early on too.
Gary was in a youth league in the Fort Walton Beach area and traveled to various places in the Western Panhandle and Alabama for tournaments with that group. He was also on the golf team at Choctawhatchee High School. He had many fond memories of those years.
The love of golf grew from those early years and the comradery with fellow team mates and the connection with his father.
As an adult in Tallahassee he played with men’s groups at the Fourth Quarter who played at Hillaman, he had been a member at the Killearn Country Club for a number of years and played on Saturdays with the men’s group there and most recently played at the Summerbrooke Golf Club with the Saturday men’s group.
If he was able, I’m sure he would tell you that being involved in golf at an early age taught him valuable life lessons, not just how to play the game.
It taught him to be courteous to others, to have integrity in all you do, to do your best always even if the day is not going your way, to have the fortitude to follow through to the end of your game.
Gary had a rare form of leukemia, went through a number of rounds of chemotherapy, had a bone marrow transplant using stem cells donated by his sister, and was on the road to recovery when something got into his lungs that his compromised immune system could not fight off. He was courageous during all of those treatments and was determined to live as normal a life as he could.
He made plans to attend a course in early November to get certified as a PGA instructor and he was going to start out by teaching youth the game of golf. He was able to play golf a number of times the summer of 2015 at a few different courses in our area. He played 18 holes on September 9th, his birthday. Two weeks later he was hospitalized and died on October 4th. He never made it to that instructor’s course.
He would be very pleased that in a small way, this scholarship will enable him to continue to contribute to the youth of the area and foster the love of golf in a new generation.
— Fran Owens (Gary's widow)
More About Gary Phillips
Gary Ray Phillips, 55, of Tallahassee died on October 4, 2015 at Shands Hospital in Gainesville. He was born at Vandenberg Air Force Base in CA and later the family moved to Fort Walton Beach, FL where he graduated from Choctawhatchee High School. He was a graduate of Florida State University and continued to live in Tallahassee, working for the State of Florida in various Agencies in the Human Resources field always advancing in his career. He was especially proud of his work as a Guardian Ad Litem volunteer. For a few years he lived in Helena, Montana where he also worked for that State. In 2014, he and his family moved back to Tallahassee and he became affiliated with Colonial Life Insurance as their Development Manager. He will always be remembered for his sense of humor, his spirit of adventure, his love of golf and his loyalty to his friends and family.
Gary, second from right, as a young player at Perdido Bay (circa. 1975)
The Bill Gay Scholarship Fund was established to honor the life of William Kelly “Bill” Gay, II (1954-2017). Bill was raised in Pacifica, CA on Sharp Park Golf EditCourse and often reminisced about his time as a child finding and selling stray golf balls, caddying all day for a clubhouse burger, and learning to manage his slice early in the morning before anyone had hit the links. He won local tournaments and enjoyed the game throughout his youth, and his passion carried on through his children.
Bill and his wife, Karen, relocated to Tallahassee to raise their two children, Eddie and BillieAnne. Bill began making BillieAnne his fourth many Saturday mornings, even at the early age of 4 and 5. She went on to have some early “pitch, put, and drive” wins, and played golf for Lincoln High School. Bill was often seen taking his lunch break during golf practice to watch and give tips to the team. He found joy walking the rolling hills of a long Par 5 and helping anyone take a stroke or two off of their game.
While Bill’s heart will forever be on Sharp Park Golf Course, he made many memories with friends on the courses of North Florida and South Georgia, sinking two holes-in-one at Tallahassee’s Hilaman Golf Course.
Supporting the Bill Gay Scholarship Fund will pass along the gift of a lifetime love of the game to local youth who may have missed that experience otherwise.
Bill and his brothers after winning his first golf tournament in Pacifica, CA
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