My company, Robert Jones Black Legacy Management, is proud to announce its marketing partnership with Bobby Jones Chiari & Syringomyelia Foundation. It is our mission to fuse the legacy and equity of my great grandfather, Bobby Jones, with the tremendous work done by the Chiari & Syringomyelia Foundation over the past 10 years.
My aunt, Merry Black, wrote these words for the media announcment on March 30th in Atlanta:
I arrived on this earth about the time Bub was diagnosed with Syringomyelia. And thus as I grew up, I watched this disease take over his body, slowly and hideously. My first recollection was Bub with his braces. Big, cumbersome braces attached to his shoes. Then the braces were accompanied by the canes. I didn’t know enough then to think anything other than this was just Bub. Because he never complained (at least in my presence), I didn’t understand as a child that this was a disease.
When Bub would come home from his law office, and with heavy feet and slow careful progression, he would find his way to the elevator in their home. As soon as the door closed, I would scamper up the stairs to his bedroom and stand at the elevator door waiting for it to open and greet him with a giggle and he with a smile. He then would remove the heavy braces and make his way to what we referred to as their Inner Sanctum off of the bedroom. There he would settle in his comfortable chair, and would enjoy his 3 fingers of Bourbon and a cigarette - or two. As he got older, this routine got harder. He had braces made for his hands so that he could essentially sign things, hold eating utensils, glasses and his cigarettes which now were lined up on his table in filters -not for health reasons but for ease in holding. The leg braces and canes eventually became useless and Bub was forced into the wheelchair.
As I grew older I began to appreciate the wisdom of my grandfather and often thought of him as an oracle, sitting in his chair, draped in a white blanket, speaking in what appeared to me as deep profundity. He always, for his entire life, sought to gain knowledge and learn.
We know of all of his degrees from Georgia Tech, Harvard and Emory. But in later life, when incapacitated, he still sought knowledge. He read the dictionary everyday. Would find a word that appealed to his curiosity and within a short amount of time, would know the history of the word, it’s origin, how it is used and anything one could learn about a single word. I know this because I had to hear about all these words. Bub gave all of his grandchildren the book, The Elements of Style and told us to read it. He had little tolerance for children until they could speak in complete sentences, and thereby wanted those sentences to be grammatically correct.
I don’t want to leave you with the impression that my grandfather was a cold, stoic man who had no love or warmth for his grandchildren. When I was 16, he presented me with the first six tickets (that’s front row, center) that went on sale for the Beatles concert at Fulton County Stadium and a limo with his personal driver to take 6 overly hormonal, and terribly hyped up 16 year olds to the concert of a lifetime. Nothing slipped by this man.
There are many out there who’ve written books about all of my grandfather’s accomplishments in golf. I, personally, would struggle to tell you which championship he won on what day and what course.
But, I can with certainty and adoration, tell you that this man made the best of his life as it was and truly lived up to his words of “playing the ball where it lies.” He was a man of integrity and wisdom who faced every challenge that life threw at him, with grace, dignity and dogged determination.
For many years our family has been trying to start a foundation to honor our grandfather’s legacy. In the 70 years since he was diagnosed with Syringomyelia I am sure there have been huge improvements in the treatment of this disease but still there are many affected and sadly more to come. By lending our grandfather’s name to the Chiari Syringomyelia Foundation, we can only hope that this will open doors to much more funding for increasing awareness, for more research and for finding a cure. Because his life taught us, anything is possible.