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Willie Stittsworth, left, and Dick Beitzel.

Beitzel, Stittsworth named as chairs for Gordy Skaar/Wells Fargo Golf Tournament

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Dick Beitzel and Willie Stittsworth have been associated with Bemidji State University and its athletic program for decades. Both were professors at the university, Beitzel teaching chemistry from 1957 to 1989 and Stittsworth in the education program from 1967 to 1989. Both have earned Professor Emeriti status and both continue to help the school by contributing time and talent.

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Their contributions have been recognized by officials of the 33rd annual Gordy Skaar/Wells Fargo Golf Tournament as Beitzel and Stittsworth have been named this year's honorary chairs.

The tournament will be June 18 at the Bemidji Town & Country Club and participants may choose either the 7:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. flight.

Golfers can form their own five-person scramble team or be placed in a fivesome by tournament officials.

The contributions of Stittsworth and Beitzel to the university are many and their associations with Bemidji State go back more than 50 years.

Stittsworth has aided BSU's academic programs by offering special scholarships in the elementary education and adaptive physical education departments. Beitzel's resume includes serving as BSU's academic vice-president in the 1960s.

Beitzel has played in the annual Gordy Skaar/Wells Fargo Golf Tournament all but two of the 32 years of its existence. A bum knee sidelined him one year and a relative's funeral took him away from Bemidji another time.

Stittsworth hasn't played in the Skaar for a few years but his children and grandchildren are always entered. Stittsworth usually is at the BTCC as well during the Skaar, serving brats or tending to other volunteer tasks that are vital to the event's well-being.

"Dick and Willie are great people. They have a long-time involvement in the tournament and at Bemidji State University," said Skaar committee co-chair Jerry Phillips. "That's why we asked them to be the tournament's honorary chairs."

"I'm honored and humbled to be an honorary chair," Stittsworth said.

"I'm not a big golfer and I thought that's what (the event officials) were looking for in an honorary chair. I am happy they chose me and it will be my pleasure to do what I can to help BSU and its athletic program."

"I've never been an honorary anything. I've always been active," Beitzel said. "But I am very happy to be an honorary chair. I always play in the morning round (it's less crowded than the afternoon session, according to Beitzel), stay for lunch and then go home. But this year I'll stick around."

The Skaar Tournament began 33 years ago when Gordy Skaar and Bob Peters discussed the options for generating money to aid the men's athletic programs.

"Gordy just wanted to help athletics and give some scholarships because nobody was doing it at the time," Phillips said.

"The first year there were only 40 golfers but it continued to grow. One year we had 180 in the afternoon session and 100 in the morning session. Now we can comfortably accommodate 250 golfers."

The entry fee is $125 and all who register by June 1 are eligible to win a $100 gift certificate at the BTCC pro shop.

Participants also will receive a tee prize, brunch, brats and beverages on the course, a walleye dinner and be entered in the drawings for a variety of door prizes.

The day will also feature tee prizes for all participants, an awards ceremony, a hole-in-one contest and special events on the course.

"During the 32 years of the tournament we have raised $500,000" Phillips said. "The cost of education has increased as has the cost of the scholarships. It is very important that the Skaar tournament continues."

Registrations can be made on-line by accessing www.skaargolf.com or by contacting the BSU Foundation Office at 218-755-2294 or 1-888-234-5718.

Joining Phillips on the Skaar Tournament committee are co-chair Scott Robbins plus Rob Bollinger, Bob Skaar, Rob Skaar, Wray Wright, Gordy (Spook) Skaar, Jr., Bill Howe, Don Niskanen, Lisa Hofstad, Ken Traxler, John Baer, Jr., Rick Goeb and Tim Hendrickson.

Y pmiller@bemidjipioneer.com

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Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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