30-year tradition honors Leonard family patriarch
EAST BRIDGEWATER — In memory of their father and grandfather Robert W. Leonard, Sr., his family and their loved ones have played golf for 30 years to raise money for a cause near and dear to their heart.
Donna Leonard of Hanson and her daughter Alyssa Oldfield, 18, are only two sets of hands that organized the Friday, Aug. 14 annual day of golf, which has celebrated her father’s life cut short by complications from Lupus in 1985.
Since then, his widow, and family matriarch, Geraldine “Gerry” Leonard of Hingham and her five children two boys and three girls have participated in raising donations for the Lupus foundation each year in his memory.
Patty Fullerton of Weymouth the eldest of the three daughters has been a driving force in keeping the golf tournament on course. She oversees many of the fine details in organizing the occasion.
“The event over the last few years has become more of a day of golf rather than a tournament in which the family still makes an average of $1,200 to contribute to the Lupus foundation,” she said.
Friday’s tee times began at 8:30 a.m. at the Ridder Country Club in East Bridgewater. They average 70 to 100 people most years, said Fullerton.
Last week there were 13 foursomes in the tournament.
With only two days over 30 years receiving a rain out their good fortune brought early sun, heat and smiling faces for 2015, Fullerton said.
Prizes and raffles have aided in raising funds with everyone donating something to the table. An amazing home-cooked turkey dinner followed at the home of Gerry Leonard with family fun and camaraderie just a few key factors that the siblings and cousins were projecting on the day.
Catching up with their eldest brother/uncle who returned just for the event from Savannah, Ga., was also eagerly anticipated. Brendan Leonard a grandson of Leonard’s was also home on leave from Ft. Riley Army base in Kansas especially for the day.
Friday there were five generations reuniting and enjoying a turkey and ham dinner with all the fixings. The cost of the dinner has considerably risen over the 30 years, with cranberry sauce alone now at more than $1.50. Leonard joked that she was feeding a small army.
Paul Brennan has not missed a single year and it is his way of paying tribute to his brother in-law.
As a grandchild Alyssa said the gathering has kept her in touch with more than a dozen of her cousins. She was quickly named the family photographer as she has documented each year since she was old enough to take control of the lenses; snapping shots of each foursome heading out on the course, with candids, and perfectly capturing a impending scrapbook for her grandmother’s memories.
After this August the family will place the tournament on hold, but Alyssa, who will head to college in the fall, called the pause on the event temporary.
“I can see the tournament being resurrected in the future when the cousins are old enough to take over,” she said. “Right now we are going in different directions but it is only temporary.”
Among the golfer prizes Flo Lydon, 82, of Rockland announced she was hoping to grab the ribbon for “the oldest golfer” at the event. She is a lifelong friend of the Leonards, and she gave thumbs up as they headed out on the Ridder course.
Although there were countless reasons for enjoying the day in memory of her husband, Gerry said having everyone together and back at the house was the crowning element.
Seeing her grandchildren and friends together she couldn’t wait to see the kids jump in the pool.
“Once a year seeing such a big family like ours get together and celebrate their father- grandfather’s memory is the highlight of my day,” she said.