Before even teeing off at Spallumcheen Golf & Country Club, players often received a warm embrace and greeting from George Chapman.
At the end of your round, if you were lucky enough, you would get a lovely parting gift for playing the friendly course. Another warm embrace and greeting from George Chapman.
He was better than even the best Wal-Mart greeter. He remembered faces and names with mind-blowing accuracy, making you feel special.
He didn’t care if you were a brain surgeon, private detective, car salesman, house painter or a sports reporter. He treated everybody with respect and just his infectious laugh and smile could make you forget a three-putt on 18 in a hurry.
Chappy, as he was affectionately known, left us on March 4 at the age of 75. His heart, although gigantic, betrayed him in this, a fabulous season for his beloved Vancouver Canucks.
“He remembered and cared for everybody he met,” said Spall head pro Al Pisch, who worked alongside Chapman for 23 years. “Guys would come up, tourists, and the first thing they would ask, is, ‘Where’s Georgie?’ He would say, ‘Hi Bill, how’s your wife Susan and kids Ryan, Susie and Joey, and how’s your car running, I remember you were having some problems with it?’ It was a rare trait.”
Pisch said Chappy loved making people laugh and smile, while setting the tone for their day.
“He was hugely responsible for the success of the golf course.”
Chappy played a big part in the clothing end of the pro shop since he ran a men’s haberdashery in Vancouver and Vernon before joining Spall.
Former Morning Star sports writer Scott Douglas joined the golf club a dozen years ago and was instantly attracted to Chappy’s charm and warmth.
“I’ll probably remember him more from when he was coming to our house for dinner and seeing him interact with our daughter, Sasha. She would climb all over him, and I know he was in pain (bad back and a few other things), but he never complained. Sasha just loved him.”
Douglas took his daughter out to hit some balls at Spall and Chappy was getting ready to tee off.
“She was about four and started screaming, ‘Chappy’ and ran into his arms and he bent over even though it hurt him. He was a big part of my life. He was very supportive and truly cared about me.”
Jeff Parker has also spent a dozen years as a Spall member and saw how Chapman treated people with class and respect.
“He never forgot a face and a name. A guy would come and play the Goose (fall tournament) after missing the last four and Chappy would remember his name. He was always cheerful. He had some good stories from his clothing store in Vancouver when the Lions and Canucks were coming into the store.”
Chappy and close buddies Bernie Stayer and Bob Coupland – who are golfing somewhere warm right now – would share wings and a soda at Rosters at least once a week during golf season.
Chappy would know just about everybody in the sports pub and make a point of saying hello to all of them.
He was just as popular as the celebrities who played in the annual Brent Gilchrist B.C. Children’s Hospital Golf Classic at Spall. People swarmed to his table like there was a magnet in their drink.
Chappy’s smile and kindness will be forever remembered by those he touched. A service will be held Thursday, 2 p.m. at the Trinity United Church.
Farynuks safe in New York
Enderby’s Brad Farynuk and his wife, Kathy, are safe and sound in New York City after a 12-hour flight from Tokyo.
They are staying with Kathy’s family in Clifton Park for a few weeks to recover from the mental toll of the devastation in Japan, where Farynuk, a Viper grad, was playing pro hockey.
“Tokyo Narita airport was a mess of people with people sleeping all over the floors and lineups going every direction but we were able to make our way home,” said Brad, in an e-mail.
“When we drove from home to the Misawa airport (flying down to Tokyo) there were a couple of gas stations open, at least for a while I presume. The line-up to get into one was about 2km long and they were a pain to drive around but that was OK. We feel guilty for leaving our teammates and friends in Japan because ultimately that is there home and they don’t have another country to fly to for relief. For one of the first times in my life I feel like a coward because I have usually never been a person who runs from a problem but in this case I felt like we were too close for Kathy and mine’s comfort.”
Farynuk said they were confused and overwhelmed by information from the local and North American media.
“To give you an idea of the type of people the Japanese are, we had one teammate wake up to drive over to our apartment at 6 a.m. to say goodbye to us. His name is Oku and it was one of the most courteous things we had ever seen. Also, one teammate Hiroshi and our trainer Kei drove us in our car to the airport to drop us off. Not only did they wait until we went through security, but as we were walking down the tunnel to the airplane, Kathy happened to look out one of the tiny windows and saw two what she called ‘weirdo’s’ on the roof of the terminal outside (observatory) jumping and waiving! I then looked and sure enough it was Hiroshi and Kei!”