Oliver: Cedarbrook owner died doing what he loved
A lot of people outside of Ted Stawovy’s wide circle of family and friends will think of him as the owner of a golf course.
Over the past 30 years, I came to know Stawovy as a farmer whose passion for golf moved him to jump feet first into the business.
He learned on the fly — working his tail off at Cedarbrook and Willowbrook every step of the way.
Stawovy, 87, died Monday, ironically playing the game he grew to love so well and doing so on his own golf course. He left this world on the 18th fairway of Cedarbrook’s Red Course.
In the 30-some years I had the pleasure of knowing Stawovy, I never looked at him as the owner of a corporation, and certainly not a big-shot entrepreneur.
That wasn’t his style.
I always saw Ted in work clothes as part of the working force, doing what he knew best on the golf course, or when he made time, in golf attire enjoying a round with his wife, Fran, or some of the many close friends he had.
To me, that was Ted Stawovy.
Like his brother Ben, who went to heaven before him, Ted was never afraid to roll up his sleeves to make Cedarbrook look as beautiful as it does.
And Ted Stawovy would never ask somebody to do a task he wasn’t willing to do himself.
He was old school — loyal, hard-working and dedicated.
When I would cross paths with him at the golf course, he would ask me how my game was, always with a smile.
And when I asked him how things were going, he would respond that he was keeping busy. For sure, his hands were not idle.
He never complained about the tough economy of golf, the ups and downs of poor weather and how it affects play, or whether or not players were doing their best to adhere to the rules of golf while on the course.
Ted Stawovy was pretty much like all of us who love the game of golf. Except we just played the game and didn’t work tirelessly to turn vast farmlands into two outstanding 36-hole courses and a pretty 9-hole course.
One of my fondest memories of him took place many years ago in the small clubhouse at Willowbrook, the 9-hole facility.
I had recently purchased a set of Ping persimmon woods, driver through 5-wood.
I loved those clubs.
As I was walking past the small assortment of new clubs on display in the shop, I noticed a new Ping 7-wood that matched my set.
I picked it up and was checking it out. I wanted it, but the $219 price tag was a little rich for a young sportswriter with a growing family.
Ted, who did not know me at the time (but I knew who he was), walked by and stopped.
“You like that club?” he asked.
And of course I did, but told him I couldn’t afford it at the moment.
“Take it and use it,” he said. “We will settle up later.”
Thankfully, I accepted his offer. I used that club for a few weeks.
The next time I saw him, he was working on the course and I approached him with money.
As I was getting money out, he waved it off and said he was working and didn’t want to lose the cash.
“We will settle up later,” he said.
Near the end of that summer, I saw him at Cedarbrook. He wasn’t wearing work clothes. He wasn’t dirty. He was dressed to play.
I went to give him money and he waved it off.
“We already settled up,” he said.
“No, we didn’t,” I said.
“You like the club?” he asked.
“It’s one of my favorites,” I said.
“Then we settled up,” he said.
That’s the Ted Stawovy I knew, respected and admired.
He wasn’t “the owner.” He was no stuffed shirt.
He was just a hard-working regular family guy with a heart of gold and a lot of character.
As Cedarbrook PGA Pro Bryon Palonder said, “He died exactly the way he wanted to, playing the game he loved on the course he built and having one of his better rounds in recent times.
“It couldn’t have been scripted any better.”
Most of us should be so lucky when our time comes.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.