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January 12, 2010

My Favorite Golf Partner

Today, is my favorite golf partners' 98th birthday. And although my grandfather, Bernie Fields, isn't with us any more... every year on January 12, I miss him a little more than usual.

You see, my grandfather was more than a grandparent, he was my best friend. And we formed this strong bond playing golf together. Usually at Portland Golf Course in the town I grew up in, Portland, CT.

But here's what's unusual about us becoming so close on the golf course: Gramps had really bad asthma. Yet the moment he stepped on a golf course - it disappeared! It was magical really. Imagine having severe asthma and finding sanctuary on a golf course.

And although many people knew my grandfather because of his jewelry store on Main Street in Middletown, CT.... what most people didn't know is that Bernie Fields was a very generous person. Now when I say generous, I don't necessarily mean just with money. I say generous because he also gave back so much of his precious time to the local community, especially when it involved children.

For example, he founded the first Big Brothers organization in CT. It's called Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters, and he started the Ahern Whalen baseball tournament. Both are still going strong because of Bernie.

In 1980, he was recognized for all of his hard work with the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Citizen Award in Cromwell, CT at the old Lord Cromwell hotel. I was just 11 years-old at the time, but I remember the event well. Any time an 11 year-old has to put on a jacket and tie, it's remembered.

But what I remember most about the event was seeing Gramps up on the podium. I clearly remember thinking that this man is larger than life. And to this day, I believe that he really was.

If I accomplish and do half the great things he did in his lifetime, my life will be a major success.
With that, I'd like to tell my favorite golf partner: "Happy Birthday! I Miss You."


Anonymous said...

Larry, What a nice tribute to your Grandfather...I actually knew him a little but I don't know how or why I might have been through Jerry Weitzman. Anyway, I remember seeing you in his store when we were growing up...I used to think it was pretty cool that you got to hang out there with him. I remember him being a really nice man. My husband and I bought my engagement ring and our wedding rings from him 16 years ago...I wouldn't think of going anywhere else...we knew you could trust him. I hope that his energy, generosity and kindness has continued in you...that is the greatest honor you could pay him. I hope you are well and I'm glad I got to read this. Take care, Debbie (Hurlburt) Gibson

Anonymous said...

What a nice read - so heartwarming to know people can still be admired and remembered for the good they do in the world, as well as for inspiring the kind of love you clearly have for your Grandfather. And the world could use more like him - people who quietly 'walk the talk'.

Big Sisters organization was a huge plus in my life, so I'll add a BIG thank you to your
Grandfather for starting one in your town...I'll bet it has helped people more than he dreamed.

Thanks, AC in Michigan

Anonymous said...

Larry...what a beautiful tribute to your Grandfather.

When you said..." I clearly remember thinking that this man is larger than life. And to this day, I believe that he really was," it reminded me of my Dad. He died when I was 12 years old, at the age of 43. That was 47 years ago. To this day, he remains "larger than life" to me.

My Dad may not be here with me on earth, but I still have conversations with him. He is part of who I am....influential on who I have become. I know he is proud of me, as your Grandfather was proud of you.

We'll be with them again someday.

Thank you for sharing.

Pat said...

Your grandfather sounds like a really special person and it sounds like you are following in his footsteps. Kudos to you.

from Pat, one of those Clay fans. :)

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