August 6, 2014 - Ralph Cissne
Frank Early III was a good man who loved golf and my friend for almost twenty years. When I learned of his passing last Saturday I spent most of the balance of the weekend in a state of shock and sadness knowing I would never see his smiling white bearded face again.
Everyone who belongs to a golf club understands the often challenging and thankless task of running tournaments. It is like herding feral cats, but Frank Early made it look easy. He served in a variety of roles for the Woodley Lakes Men’s Golf Club including web master and photographer. He loved the club and the members, something that was obvious to anyone who paid attention.
In 2011 I advised Frank that our club championship would be my last tournament as I was moving to Oklahoma to be close to my family. I had my game face on when the tournament weekend arrived. The morning of the final round Frank approached with a large envelope. “Go on,” he said. “Open it.”
Inside was a portfolio filled with Frank’s tournament photographs and Woodley Wedge newsletter articles that recounted my years in the club. As I turned the pages I was overwhelmed and speechless, a profoundly unusual condition for me, and struggled not to break down. I gathered my emotions yet tears filled my eyes. “This is the most thoughtful gift,” I said. “Anyone has ever given to me.”
Frank smiled. “We wanted you to know how much we enjoyed having you in the club,” he said. “And how much we love you.”
There are the brothers and sisters of birth and the brothers and sisters we choose. Frank was one of the later, an authentic and caring soul who always made my day. A year ago I was visiting Los Angeles and Frank arranged for me to play in a home tournament. It was wonderful to see the familiar faces of my Woodley golf brothers. A few days later I stopped by Golfsmith to see Frank. I thanked him again for the years of friendship and for his thoughtfulness. I recall clearly the smile on his face as we shook hands for what would be the last time.
So I am at a loss. Knowing Frank Early III made a difference in my life. I told him so and am grateful we shared that awareness and understanding. That we did not withhold. I will let that be the legacy of Frank’s gift – to be more patient and thoughtful in everything I do, on the golf course and throughout my life. And to acknowledge the brothers and sisters of choice.Namaste.