HALL OF FAME HONOREES

 

 2015 - RICHARD BURTON

 J. Richard Burton was born on January 3, 1946 in Halifax, North Carolina.  He first learned to play bridge while studying engineering at North Carolina State University.  He fell deeply in love with the game from the beginning.

 In the late 1970s, Richard became a professional bridge player and developed his own bidding system, which was playfully called “RABBIT.”   He won many regional events playing the system with regular partners Jerry Helms and Harold Triplett.  The RABBIT system required opening all hands of ten HCP.  The system also utilized frequent canapé (opening a four-card major, then bidding a longer minor), and a weak NT in first or second seat.  Richard moved to Atlanta in 1983.

Richard has won a great many real events, with partners including Harold, Jerry, Lynn Deas and Jim Krekorian.   A great number of these events took place in the days when there was only one regionally-rated event on a particular day.

 In a recent email received by the Hall of Fame Committee from Jerry Helms, he stated the following about Richard’s nomination for the DBAA Hall of Fame:

“I am 100% in agreement that Richard Burton deserves induction into your Hall of Fame. He perhaps is the best declarer I have ever had the privilege to play with and this list includes names like Soloway, Cohen, Sontag, Hardy, just to name a few. He had the incredible ability to bring in partners of limited ability to many of his regional victories. He was a great partner and a friendly outgoing opponent. If you're looking for stories, there are "millions" of them. Perhaps my favorite:

Very early in my bridge career, Richard, who was far more experienced than I, started playing some with me. I was very green! I had read and knew just enough to be a little dangerous. We were defending a contract and Richard led my long suit, which declarer ruffed. I was void in declarer's trumps and having read something about keeping small cards in a side suit to perhaps give declarer a guess later, I started unloading my own long suit. At some point, Richard ruffed a suit declarer led, pulled declarer's last trump, and led his last card into my suit, which was now only two cards in length. Ruefully, I conceded the rest of the tricks.

Richard leaned over the table, and gave me a life lesson: "In the future, let's pitch our losers and keep our winners!" Seemed like really good advice and I really have tried to follow it ever since.

Richard and I were a regular partnership for many years, playing "Rabbit". There are numerous more stories.”

 In 2008, Richard and his partner, Beatrice Kemp, placed fourth in the National Mixed Pairs at the Detroit National.  That same year, he and Beatrice qualified to represent District Seven in the North American Pairs.  Eventually, they had to abandon that effort due to Richard’s recurring health problems

In 2010, Richard and Beatrice were first overall in the Wernher Open Pairs, a National event at the New Orleans National.  Richard has accumulated approximately 9000 masterpoints.

In 2013, Richard and Beatrice won the Atlanta heat of the 27th Worldwide Bridge Contest.

Richard has never been involved in bridge politics, but has served many, many times as a volunteer speaker and instructor at various Regionals, including on behalf of the DBAA.  He loves to speak about bridge, particularly on the subject of bridge squeeze play.  Several hands played by Richard have been published in the New York Times bridge column.

Richard distinguishes himself at the table by always exhibiting calmness, good etiquette, and fairness.  He creates a friendly atmosphere by offering funny bridge anecdotes from his past experiences.  He is a gentleman that always displays the highest standard of conduct, no matter what the situation.

 Richard is a football lover, a science fiction lover, and above all, a lover of the game of bridge.  He is a truly great representative of the game.

 

2014 - EMORY WHITAKER

 

Emory Whitaker has become the 11th member of the Georgia Bridge Hall of Fame with his election by the Unit 114 Board of Directors in April 2014. 

Emory was born in Augusta, GA in 1942 and lived in Georgia all of his life. He earned a BS degree from Davidson College, and MA and PhD degrees in mathematics from the University of Georgia. He married his wife, Genny, 45 years ago and they have one daughter, Beth. The Whitakers moved to Macon in 1970 when Emory became a mathematics professor at Mercer University. Teaching at Mercer for the next 30 years, he served as Chairman of the Department of Mathematics and Coordinator of the Great Books Program. 

Emory learned to play bridge when he was 14 years old. He immediately fell in love with the game, but did not play duplicate until 1968 when he was a graduate student at UGA. Emory became a life master in 1975. 

Before Emory retired, his second favorite avocation was participation in community theater. He has been in more than 30 plays in local theaters. Some of his favorite roles have been the King in The King and I, Daddy Warbucks in Annie, and George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Since retirement, Genny and he have enjoyed traveling and his theater involvement has been mostly as an audience member.

After Emory's retirement in 2000, he began playing more in regional and national tournaments, and won most of his master points since then. He has over 70 Blue Ribbon qualifications and several high overall finishes in national events, including 2nd in the 2005 Wernher Open Pairs with Sam Marks, and 4th in the 1994 IMP pairs with John Gassenheimer. Emory has represented District 7 three times in the NAP, placing overall in this event with Bob Heller in 2000 and Sam Marks in 2005. He has had good luck in instant match point games, finishing 1st in the ACBL on three occasions, twice with Joel Haywood and once with Genny. 

Emory has been a member of the Macon Duplicate Bridge Club for 44 years, serving as president two times. Emory has offered bridge classes in Macon on numerous occasions. He played a significant role in bringing a regional tournament to Macon in 2013, and will serve as co-chair of the MDBC-supported Callaway Gardens Regional in 2015. Emory represented his area on the Unit 114 Board for several years and served as both Vice-President and President. He was awarded Sportsman of the Year in 1984 and Player of the Year in 1994. He has represented Unit 114 on the District 7 board and is a member of both the ACBL and District 7 Good Will Committees. 

Emory says, "I have loved playing duplicate bridge. As a mathematician I am fascinated by the problem-solving aspect of the game and the new situations that arise every time I play. The best part, however, has been all of the great people that I have met through bridge and the lasting friendships I have made with other players." 

Georgia Bridge Hall of Fame member Mike Kovacich, a frequent partner and team mate of Emory, says "Emory is an excellent example to others as to how the game should be played. He displays the highest standards of conduct, ethics, and demeanor. Very seldom if ever does he lose his composure. A great partner."

Unit President Ken Parker says "In addition to Emory's outstanding achievements at the table, his dedicated service to the unit and district for well over 20 years has been outstanding."

 As of Emory's April 2014 induction to the Georgia Bridge Hall of Fame, his master point total of 10,400 has earned him the rank of Platinum Life Master. 

 

2012 - KEVIN COLLINS

 

 Kevin Collins was inducted into the Unit 253 (DBAA) Hall of Fame on November 11, 2015, by vote of the Unit 253 Board of Directors.  He had previously been the tenth member inducted into the Georgia State Unit 114 Hall of Fame in February, 2012. Kevin was born and raised in New Orleans, La. but left after high school to attend Georgia Tech in Atlanta, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering. It was at Tech that Kevin learned to play bridge, and initially played at the duplicate bridge club with his first regular partner, Robert Shepherd. 

Kevin began playing tournaments in 1980, and became a Life Master in 1982.  Early partners included Rick Haddon, Ace Allen, Chuck Whidden, and Paul Romig. 

In the mid-1980s, Kevin began to partner with Patty Tucker after her move to Atlanta. They became close friends and, then after 20 years, they married in 2006. Kevin has attained the rank of Grand Life Master, and has accumulated over 11,000 masterpoints, with numerous regional and sectional victories. At the date of this induction, he ranked sixth on the Unit 253 lifetime masterpoint list. 

Kevin has represented District 7 four times in the Grand National Teams, and three times in the North American Pairs.  In March, 2000, playing with his wife Patty, he won his first national championship.  He has several other top finishes in national events, including eleven “top ten” and twenty “top fifteen” finishes, most partnering with Patty.

Kevin also has a long record of providing service to bridge. He served as Vice-President of the DBAA for 2 years, and as an Atlanta Area Representative on the Unit board in the early 2000s.

 He has also served on the Unit 114 Conduct and Ethics Committee since the late 1980s. In 1991, he became chairman of the committee, and held this position until Unit 253 was formed, at which time he took over the position in the new unit. Since late 1990, Kevin has also served as chairman of the District Seven Conduct and Ethics Committee.  He has also served on the ACBL Disciplinary Committee since 2004. This committee meets on an as-needed basis at the National Championships, in order to hear and rule on cases involving the ACBL and its members.

Kevin has said that “While playing in the 1980s, the C&E committee was the one committee on which I hoped to be asked to serve. Being considered to be a part of these committees has been one of the major highlights of my bridge career. I have always tried to present a fair and even-handed approach to committee hearings and activities while understanding that the committee often deals with members during their worst moments.”When not playing bridge, Kevin spends his spare time playing his guitar, running, and enjoying time with his wife Patty and his dog Tate.

2011 - BOB HELLER

 Bob Heller, of Decatur, became the ninth member of the Georgia State Bridge Hall of Fame with his election by the Unit 114 Board of Directors in August 2011. 

Bob Heller, of Decatur, became the ninth member of the Georgia State Bridge Hall of Fame with his election by the Unit 114 Board of Directors in August 2011. 

Born in Milwaukee, Bob left the Midwest after his senior year to study at Duke University in 1968. He had a passion for reporting, working first on his high school newspaper, then on The Chronicle, a daily, at Duke. He was a political science major. After graduation, his first job was as a sportswriter in Greensboro. 

He subsequently worked at The Charlotte Observer, where he heard some colleagues talking about duplicate bridge. (Bob had played “dorm bridge” and some socially). He tried a few games at the Charlotte club and joined the ACBL in 1980. Bob credits Jerry Helms with stoking his interest in the game and setting up some early partnerships. Bob became a Life Master in 1984 shortly after moving to Atlanta to work for the Journal-Constitution. He did not play a lot of tournament bridge until late in the decade; he was married to Kathleen Galligher, a non-bridge player. Kathy died from breast cancer in 1989. 

Bob met Barbara Davis through mutual friends in the early ‘90s when she was Gatlinburg Regional chair. They were married in August 1992. The marriage brought a younger generation with it, as Amanda, then 13, moved with Barbara to Atlanta. Barbara is chiefly responsible for Bob’s involvement in the administrative side of bridge. 

He represented Unit 114 at a Mid-Atlantic board meeting while Barbara was conference president. He later served as MABC secretary, vice-president and president, and for many years has been coordinating Mid-Atlantic advertising and publicity. 

Bob has been most active in District 7 governance as well, serving as vice-president, then president in 2008-09. He has been editor of the District 7 News since its inception in 2002 and has served as tournament coordinator since the mid-1990s. He was elected District Director in 2008, and in January 2009 became the first Unit 114 member on the ACBL board since Margaret Wagar. 

Locally, Bob was Duplicate Bridge Association of Atlanta president in 2009-10 and chaired or co-chaired 45 sectionals, ending in November 2011. The three annual tournaments have averaged 900 tables over the past several years and always rank among the largest half dozen in the ACBL

Fellow Unit 114 Board member, Ken Parker, says “Bob has served the Unit 114 Board in one capacity or another for all of the past 20 years. Taking on a variety responsibilities, he has always distinguished himself by his working tirelessly for the benefit of the Unit and as a positive force for Georgia bridge. Bob was named to the ACBL Goodwill Committee in 1999, an honor which he richly deserved.” 

He also has highly notable accomplishments at the bridge table. Bob has been District 7 North American Pairs champion three times, twice with Emory Whitaker of Macon. He has earned about 80 Blue Ribbon qualifications at regionals and perennially is among the top silver point winners at sectionals. He went over 10,000 master points at Gatlinburg in 2011, becoming a Platinum Life Master.

Emory Whitaker adds, “Bob and I have been playing together both as partners and teammates for about 20 years. We have had a lot of success, which is evidence of his very high quality of play. He is not only a fine player, but he is an excellent partner. He doesn’t criticize his partner when things go badly, but keeps things in perspective with his wonderful sense of humor. He is gracious in both victory and defeat. He encourages less experienced players and frequently partners them in local club games.” Emory goes on to say, “Bob is a dynamo in his advocacy for bridge. He has spent many long hours working at all levels to improve duplicate bridge. His bridge colleagues have recognized his skill and hard work by electing him as District Seven’s representative to the ACBL Board of Directors. Bob Heller is most deserving of his membership in the Georgia Bridge Hall of Fame.” 

From Mike Kovacich, a frequent teammate and partner, “Bob always exhibits a calm, courteous demeanor at the table. He has the highest ethical standards and displays all the traits that you would want in a partner while at the same time being courteous to his opponents. He has a dry sense of humor and sometimes it takes a few seconds to realize when he has told a joke until the punch line hits you.” Mike adds, “Like all bridge players he loves to win, but he refuses to compromise on ethics, goodwill, or good behavior at the table. He will be an outstanding addition to the Georgia Bridge Hall of Fame.” 

Born in Milwaukee, Bob left the Midwest after his senior year to study at Duke University in 1968. He had a passion for reporting, working first on his high school newspaper, then on The Chronicle, a daily, at Duke. He was a political science major. After graduation, his first job was as a sportswriter in Greensboro.

He subsequently worked at The Charlotte Observer, where he heard some colleagues talking about duplicate bridge. (Bob had played “dorm bridge” and some socially). He tried a few games at the Charlotte club and joined the ACBL in 1980. Bob credits Jerry Helms with stoking his interest in the game and setting up some early partnerships. Bob became a Life Master in 1984 shortly after moving to Atlanta to work for the Journal-Constitution. He did not play a lot of tournament bridge until late in the decade; he was married to Kathleen Galligher, a non-bridge player. Kathy died from breast cancer in 1989.

Bob met Barbara Davis through mutual friends in the early ‘90s when she was Gatlinburg Regional chair. They were married in August 1992. The marriage brought a younger generation with it, as Amanda, then 13, moved with Barbara to Atlanta. Barbara is chiefly responsible for Bob’s involvement in the administrative side of bridge. 

He represented Unit 114 at a Mid-Atlantic board meeting while Barbara was conference president. He later served as MABC secretary, vice-president and president, and for many years has been coordinating Mid-Atlantic advertising and publicity. 

Bob has been most active in District 7 governance as well, serving as vice-president, then president in 2008-09. He has been editor of the District 7 News since its inception in 2002 and has served as tournament coordinator since the mid-1990s. He was elected District Director in 2008, and in January 2009 became the first Unit 114 member on the ACBL board since Margaret Wagar. 

Locally, Bob was Duplicate Bridge Association of Atlanta president in 2009-10 and chaired or co-chaired 45 sectionals, ending in November 2011. The three annual tournaments have averaged 900 tables over the past several years and always rank among the largest half dozen in the ACBL.

Fellow Unit 114 Board member, Ken Parker, says “Bob has served the Unit 114 Board in one capacity or another for all of the past 20 years. Taking on a variety responsibilities, he has always distinguished himself by his working tirelessly for the benefit of the Unit and as a positive force for Georgia bridge. Bob was named to the ACBL Goodwill Committee in 1999, an honor which he richly deserved.”

He also has highly notable accomplishments at the bridge table. Bob has been District 7 North American Pairs champion three times, twice with Emory Whitaker of Macon. He has earned about 80 Blue Ribbon qualifications at regionals and perennially is among the top silver point winners at sectionals. He went over 10,000 master points at Gatlinburg in 2011, becoming a Platinum Life Master.

Emory Whitaker adds, “Bob and I have been playing together both as partners and teammates for about 20 years. We have had a lot of success, which is evidence of his very high quality of play. He is not only a fine player, but he is an excellent partner. He doesn’t criticize his partner when things go badly, but keeps things in perspective with his wonderful sense of humor. He is gracious in both victory and defeat. He encourages less experienced players and frequently partners them in local club games.” Emory goes on to say, “Bob is a dynamo in his advocacy for bridge. He has spent many long hours working at all levels to improve duplicate bridge. His bridge colleagues have recognized his skill and hard work by electing him as District Seven’s representative to the ACBL Board of Directors. Bob Heller is most deserving of his membership in the Georgia Bridge Hall of Fame.”

From Mike Kovacich, a frequent teammate and partner, “Bob always exhibits a calm, courteous demeanor at the table. He has the highest ethical standards and displays all the traits that you would want in a partner while at the same time being courteous to his opponents. He has a dry sense of humor and sometimes it takes a few seconds to realize when he has told a joke until the punch line hits you.” Mike adds, “Like all bridge players he loves to win, but he refuses to compromise on ethics, goodwill, or good behavior at the table. He will be an outstanding addition to the Georgia Bridge Hall of Fame.”

2011 - PATTY TUCKER

 Patty Tucker was inducted into the Unit 253 (DBAA) Hall of Fame on November 11, 2015, by vote of the Unit 253 Board of Directors.  She had previously been the eighth member inducted into the Georgia State Unit 114 Hall of Fame in 2011. Patty’s success at the bridge table is well known, culminating in her victory in the 2000 North American Open Pairs with long-time partner Kevin Collins, whom she married in 2006.

Patty has over 50 Regional championships to her credit and several top ten finishes in NABC events, including the Spingold. She has been the District 7 Grand National Teams winner four times and has twice won the District 7 North American Open Pairs. Patty is an Emerald Life Master who has appeared on many Barry Crane and Mini-McKenney lists.

Patty was born in Ft. Benning, Georgia and grew up in Huntsville, Alabama. The daughter of two duplicate bridge players, Mary and Don Davis, she began playing bridge at age 11 and joined the ACBL in 1965. Bridge remained a primary avocation throughout Patty’s varied career. She has worked for an architectural engineering firm, an electronic distribution firm, and later owned a collectible used book store. After her son Chase graduated from Auburn University, Patty turned her hobby into a full-time career. She is one of Atlanta’s top bridge teachers and has earned the title of ABTA Master Bridge Teacher. She is also an ACBL Certified Director and ACBL Accredited Teacher and still devotes a generous amount of her time as a bridge volunteer

Among Patty’s major accomplishments as a volunteer on behalf of bridge are the following:

  • American Bridge Teacher’s Association President (2015-2017)
  • ACBL Goodwill Member of the Year (2011)
  • National Goodwill Committee (ACBL)
  • Sportsman of the Year, Unit 114 (2000)
  • Mini-McKenney Gold Life Master Award, District 7 (1999, 2000, 2001)
  • Barry Crane Top 500 List (2001)
  • District 7 Goodwill Member
  • Unit 253 Recorder
  • ACBL Certified Director
  • ACBL Accredited Teacher
  • American Bridge Teachers Association Master Teacher (ABTA)
  • Better Bridge Accredited Teacher
  • ACBL Youth Coordinator (May 2008 through December 2009)
  • Trustee, Foundation for the Preservation and Advancement of Bridge (FPAB)
  • ACBL National Charity Committee
  • President of Atlanta Junior Bridge, Inc.
  • Founder, Whirlwind Bridge
  • ACBL National Appeals Committee Member

Patty combined her commitment to bridge volunteerism and her love for children in 2006 with the creation of Atlanta Junior Bridge, the foremost organization for youth bridge. Not only has Patty’s leadership brought bridge to thousands of kids in our area (including her grandson Jordan), but Patty has used the lessons of AJB to help organizations throughout North America to create their own local programs. Working within AJB monthly duplicate games for children, she established weekly classes, Georgia Youth Pair and Swiss Team Championships, a 9-Week Middle School Curriculum, and the first Georgia School Bridge Championship. The ACBL’s youngest Life Master learned bridge through the Atlanta Junior Bridge program and continues to play and learn through AJB.

Patty’s vision led to the creation of the first ever Youth NABC in Atlanta in 2008 which she chaired. She also served as co-chair of the Washington DC Youth NABC. Patty’s influence over youth bridge throughout the continent continued when she worked part-time as the first ACBL Youth Coordinator. She has continued her youth efforts as the creator of the Bridge Teachers for Youth website and as the organizer of the first Youth Bridge Symposium. Whirlwind Bridge - a company that creates and publishes bridge workbooks for students - was founded by Patty. She still serves as AJB’s President and is a Trustee of the Foundation for the Preservation and Advancement of Bridge.

Not content with advancing bridge to young players, Patty created the first “Social Duplicate Bridge Game” in District 7 which fielded over 40 tables of social bridge players; the “Learn Bridge in A Day” seminar which taught over 150 adults to play bridge in a four hour session, and she worked with the ACBL and AARP in the “Bridge to Anaheim” initiative to attract AARP members to ACBL functions. Patty believes that teaching bridge to adults and children offers them an opportunity for excellence which will be available to them for the rest of their lives.

When Patty was honored as the ACBL Goodwill Member of the Year for 2011, District Director Bob Heller reflected that:  “What Patty has contributed to our game is immeasurable. At the table, she is a thoughtful and successful player whose ethics are second-to-none. Her teaching, goodwill and general demeanor works wonders among all age groups. There is no one more worthy of such recognition.”

 

2009 - MIKE KOVACICH

Mike Kovacich was inducted into the Unit 253 (DBAA) Hall of Fame on November 11, 2015, by vote of the Unit 253 Board of Directors.  He had previously been the seventh member inducted into the Georgia State Unit 114 Hall of Fame in January, 2009.

Born in Kingston, Pennsylvania, Mike lived all over the world (his father was in the Army) until the summer of 1959 when he moved to Columbus, Georgia. During his senior year in high school he started playing bridge and graduated to duplicate. He joined the ACBL in 1964, but played only occasionally and did not become a Life Master until March, 1980. He reached 1,000 points in February of 1989.

After his release from active duty with the Air Force as a JAG officer in 1972 (he remained in the active reserves, serving until 1995 and retiring in 2005 as a Lieutenant Colonel), he settled in DeKalb County, Georgia, and has resided there since. After working for a year and a half plus for DeKalb County as an Assistant Public Defender, he went into private practice either with other attorneys or on his own until closing his office in 2005. His desk sits in his home, and he handles occasional matters for old clients, but he is mostly retired at this time.

He has been married to Mae for forty years, and has three grown sons and six grandchildren.

In the early 1990s, he got involved with the administrative part of bridge, as well as playing with a greater frequency. He has gone from holding one Blue Ribbon qualification in July of 1992 to holding 200 in 2015. 

He had many years of service on the Boards of the Mid-Atlantic, District 7, and Unit 114. He has also served on the ACBL Board of Governors since 1997 and from January 1, 2009, to December 31, 2012, he was Chairman of the Board of Governors of the ACBL.

He has over 18,000 masterpoints. He has finished 5/8 in the 1999 Spingold, the 2004 Vanderbilt, and the Senior KOs in 2004, 2005, and 2007, as well as a number of other overall finishes in national events. He has frequently appeared in the top 500 on the McKenney list, with his highest finish being 39th nationally. He was the Unit 114 masterpoint leader for ten years, starting in 2003.

As a bridge administrator, he has served as committee chair or member of numerous committees including Bylaws, Appeals, Tournaments and Competition, Nominating, Elections, Contracts, Scheduling, and Finance. From the 1990s, he also co-chaired the Atlanta Sectionals. He has been a member of the National Appeals Committee since 2004, and is a member of the National and District 7 Goodwill Committees.  He presently serves on the ACBL Disciplinary Committee

His service as an officer of Unit 114, District 7, and the Mid-Atlantic is as follows:

      ·      Unit 114: President (2000-2002), Vice President (1998-2000),                   Secretary (1996-1998)

·      District 7: President (September 1997 - September 1999), Vice President (January 1995 - September 1997), Secretary (September 1993 - December 1994) 

 

·      Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conference: President (two terms)-(2000-2001  and 2002-2003), Vice President (two terms) - (1999-2000 and 2001-2002)

With his outstanding record of player accomplishments, and 25 years of service to the game of bridge, Mike Kovacich is an extremely well-qualified inductee to the Unit 253 (DBAA) Hall of Fame.

 

2004 - RANDY PETIT

Randy Pettit was inducted into the Unit 253 (DBAA) Hall of Fame on November 11, 2015, by vote of the Unit 253 Board of Directors.  He had previously been the sixth member inducted into the Georgia State Unit 114 Hall of Fame in December, 2003

A native of Ocean City, N.J., Randy played his first duplicate game as a teenager. His partner was his mother and they tied for first in a club game. That was in 1962 or ‘63, by Randy's account, and after serving in the Marines, attending Duke University, and winning all of 37 master points, a job transfer brought him to the Atlanta area in March 1974.

 He worked for Connecticut General (now Cigna) and was responsible for technical support throughout the Southeast. He dealt with financial planning and insurance for business owners, a career that lasted until 1996, when he retired.

By that time, Randy had compiled quite the bridge résumé, and the very next year, he made a one-of-a-kind journey to the top of the Barry Crane 500 list. 

In the early days of the game there were two national organizations, William McKenney's American Bridge League, with roots in auction bridge, and Ely Culbertson's United States Bridge Association. They were merged in 1937, with McKenney in command, and Charles Goren was named the first winner of the McKenney Trophy for winning the most master points in a year.

There have been many different winners of the McKenney Trophy, nearly all of them professionals who play weekly on the tournament circuit with clients who can afford their fees. The 1997 winner did not fit the mold. Randy Pettit of Marietta, GA, is neither a professional nor a client. His bridge planning was perhaps less effective, for he sometimes arrived at a tournament without partners and teammates and relied on happenstance. His bridge skills were such that the professionals were happy to recruit him as a team member or play with him when they were unemployed.

In 1997, he attended all three national championships, eighteen regional tournaments and three sectionals, far less than most of the professionals. However, by the end of the year, he had accumulated 2,117 master points. A perennial contender, Paul Soloway of Mill Creek, WA, took second place. This was a remarkable performance by Pettit, who has battled attention deficit disorder all his life. 

“I really had no one person to play with,” recalls Randy, “and probably had 50 partners. Until Gatlinburg, I more or less had pickup partners.” One thing led to another and, with some of the perennial bigger names cutting back a bit, Randy's total of 2,117 master points in 1997 led all of the ACBL.

“I had no plans at all to pursue it until I was seventh in October and had big tournaments at Lancaster (a regional) and St. Louis (the Fall NABC). Paul Soloway approached me in St. Louis and said, ‘Congratulations, you're going to win it.' He said St. Louis would be his final tournament that year.” 

Randy's masterpoint championship remains a rarity. Almost every year, the winner is either a full-time, world-class professional or a client, who pays top-of-the-line pros to be teammates for a year. 

Randy has been on the boards of the Duplicate Bridge Association of Atlanta and Unit 114, and was Unit 114 President for two years from 1992 to 1994. He also has been a speaker at NABCs and Regionals and has served on appeals committees.

Randy has over 18,000 master points (less than 500 since 2006, when he turned his interests to other things) and 250+ Blue Ribbon qualifications. He became a Grand Life Master when he won the NABC Senior Swiss Teams event in 2001. He later won a Senior Knockout championship and has two seconds and a third-place finish in other NABC events. Randy has won the Unit 114 Life Master Player of the Year award seven times. 

Randy's life has undergone substantial change in the past decade. While recovering from a serious motorcycle accident, he had a “profound spiritual awakening” and embarked on a rigorous workout regimen. He remains firmly committed in both areas. Randy's greatest source of pride is his goal to make 600 blood platelet donations (he currently is around 460, and he did not make his first until 1996).  He also volunteers at a local hospital doing pastoral care on the cardiac floor, teaches Sunday School, and makes an annual trip to New Jersey to fill up his pickup truck with tomatoes and corn, and to bring them back to Georgia, where he donates most of them to several charitable organizations, friends, and some even to bridge players. 

 

1996 - JACK FEAGIN

Jack Feagin was inducted into the Unit 253 (DBAA) Hall of Fame on November 11, 2015, by vote of the Unit 253 Board of Directors.  He had previously been the fifth member inducted into the Georgia State Unit 114 Hall of Fame in 1996.Jack started actively playing bridge when he finished law school in 1973. He married his favorite partner Claudia in 1976. From the very beginning, Jack began volunteering and serving on the Unit 114, District 7, and MABC Boards, also assisting Edgar Gay in running Atlanta bridge tournaments. With the passing of Edgar Gay in 1980, Jack became the tournament chairman and has run 33 MABC regionals and 70 sectionals for Atlanta. In addition, he was chairman for the very successful North American Bridge Championships in Atlanta in 1986, 1995 and 2013

As a player, Jack has won many Regional and Sectional events, and has several top ten finishes in national events. He has won the right to represent District 7 in the Grand National Teams and the North American Pairs numerous times. 

In 1979, Jack helped form the Duplicate Bridge Association of Atlanta, and served as its first President. In the late 1980s, he formed and led the Committee for an Open and Improved ACBL, which helped to bring about needed changes with the ACBL Board of Directors and management. He has also served on the ACBL Board of Governors for many years.

Jack has served several terms as Unit 114 President. He has also served as a District 7 officer several times, including twice as its President. He has also been the President of the Mid-Atlantic Bridge Association. In addition, he served for several years on the District Judiciary and National Appeals committees. 

Jack was named to the ACBL Goodwill Committee in 1977. In 1983, he was named Unit 114 Sportsperson of the Year.

In addition to Jack's long and meritorious record of working for the betterment of bridge, Jack has been deeply involved in coaching girls’ basketball for 17 years and has formed a nationally recognized girls AAU basketball program.

 

1992 - RICHARD FREEMAN

Richard Freeman, a "Quiz Kid" of radio fame in the 1940s, became the ACBL's youngest Life Master in 1952 at the age of 18, by March 2008, had claimed over 20 North American championships and two world championships with three second place finishes. Freeman graduated from high school at the age of 12 and enrolled at the University of Chicago, earning a bachelor's degree in liberal arts by the age of 15. That’s where he learned to play bridge. By the age of 21, he had earned another bachelor's degree (in business administration) and a law degree from George Washington University in DC. 

In the mid-1950s, he began directing and became legendary for his speed with a pencil in the days when games were posted and scored by hand. Freeman excels in mathematics and has a photographic memory. 

“Dickie will be our local star,” predicted Jack Feagin in 1995. “He’s a great competitor and gentleman, with a fantastic memory. I’ve seen him recall every play from a game 30 years ago. And people stand around in awe watching him add up score sheets in his head.” 

One of Freeman’s teammates, Bob Hamman, disagrees with the “gentleman” part. The soft-spoken grandfather others see away from the table becomes “an acid-tongued dynamo at the bridge table. “ Says Hamman, “Dick has a sharp needle and knows how to use it.” He won his first North American championship in 1955 — the Men's (now Open) B-A-M Teams — playing with Edgar Kaplan, Norman Kay, Ralph Hirschberg and Al Roth. Freeman is best known, however, for his partnership with Nick Nickell and for the success their team -- Bob Hamman-Bobby Wolff, Paul Soloway, Jeff Meckstroth-Eric Rodwell – enjoyed for many years: Freeman’s victories include the Spingold in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2004; the Reisinger in 1993, 1994, 1995, 2004, 2005, and 2008; the Vanderbilt in 2000, and 2003; and the Bermuda Bowl in 1995 and 2000.

Freeman says he considers bridge to be more than a game, more than a sport -- "it broadens your perspective." He credits his wife, Louise, with teaching him how to win. Playing with his future wife Louise, Freeman won the Mixed Teams national championship in 1961.

You will not see Freeman competing at local bridge. He limits his bridge play to the 3 NABCs each year, along with World Bridge Championship events for which his team qualifies. Freeman enjoys crossword puzzles, poker, growing rose bushes, and is a fan of the Chicago Cubs.

Richard Freeman, a Grand Life Master with over 17,000 master points, was inducted to the Georgia Bridge Hall of Fame in 1991 and to the ACBL Hall of Fame in 2001. He died June 29, 2009 at the age of 75.

 

 1985 - LOU BLUHM

Lou Bluhm of Atlanta was a bridge professional and an expert at poker and gin rummy. One of the leading American players, he was well-known for his high standard of ethics and deportment.

He placed 3rd in the World Mixed Pairs in 1978 and won the Cavendish Invitational Pairs in 1981. He was the first recipient of the ACBL's Distinguished Player Award (an award that was originated for him). He won the Reisinger in 1972, the Spingold in 1974 and 1977; the Vanderbilt in 1979 and 1989; the Blue Ribbon Pairs and Men's Teams in 1977; the Open Pairs in 1984, and the Life Master Men's Pairs in 1987. He placed 2nd in the Vanderbilt in 1978 and 1986; the Spingold in 1988, the Men's Teams in 1973 and the Grand National Open Teams and the Men's B-A-M Teams in 1983; the Men's B-A-M Teams in 1987. In total, Lou won 9 NABC titles, including all the major team events and the Blue Ribbon Pairs.

When Lou received the ACBL's Distinguished Player Award in 1989 -- an award originated just for him -- it was a fitting culmination. At that time Frank Stewart wrote "Lou Bluhm has always the perfect embodiment of of expert excellence; the quiet aura of competence; the pride and determination that never let him be satisfied with second place; the constant tinkering to improve his system; the high standards of ethics and deportment." 

Lou met his final opponent, pancreatic cancer, with the same stolid strength of mind he brought to bridge. Only two weeks before his death, his team reached the semifinals of of the Vanderbilt Teams, where they were defending champions. By the time Lou got to Fort Worth, the decline in his elephantine build and face belied his illness; still in each match he got in his two quarters in a wheelchair, and everyone marveled at his outstanding play in what proved to be his last event. 

Here's what long-time partner Tom Sanders had to say about Lou:

"As Lou Bluhm's long-time partner and longer time friend, it is an honor and a privilege for me to be a part of this ceremony tonight. I've thought a lot about Lou in the past 10 years. Sometimes fantasizing how things might have turned out had he not been taken from us at 50 years old in the prime of his life and with no-telling- how- many-bridge-tournaments yet to be won. Other times, like tonight, thinking about what it was that set him apart from other bridge players. I could never imagine a more perfect partner. Have you ever had a partner who seemed to always make the right play? I remember so many times on defense thinking, Lou, if you have such-and-such card, you better play it now or they're going to make this hand. Then I'd glance down at the table and there would be that very card, just played, looking up at me, seeming to say, you knew if he had me, he was going to play me. Yes, I suppose I did. He played the game with aplomb and self-assurance, and with the imagination of a skillful novelist. When things went wrong, and they invariably do, Lou was unflappable. This trait re-enforced partnership confidence and not only served him well in bridge as well as life...but later during his ordeal.

He was always known for his high standard of deportment and ethics. These                outstanding characteristics are the essencof class and the epitome of the              consummate expert. In 1989, he was, and remains, the only recipient of ACBL's          Distinguished Player Award.Lou was happy with his relatively simple lifestyle and moderate surroundings. Besides a few lady friends from time to time, his passion was bridge, poker and ginrummy. He made his living playing cards. His near addiction was sports. He was a true sports fan and an authority on most. It pains me he missed out on so many sport milestones that he would have enjoyed, like: the Braves of the 90s; the Atlanta Olympics; the Falcons in the Super Bowl; and, since he was a golfer, the     phenomenon of Tiger Woods.

He faced the awful dilemma that fate dealt him in the summer of 1989 like it was a       tough bridge match. Lou moved to Tennessee and started a series of experimental       protocols designed to improve his chances. All told, he was in the hospital 7 times.

Lou didn't have medical insurance. Because of a broad spectrum of bridge friends that contributed a significant amount of money to a special fund, he was able to afford these treatments. Many of these friends are here tonight and, once again, I want you to know Lou knew of your participation and was overwhelmed by your generosi. Now is the time that Lou would have wanted me to acknowledge some others that were very important to him during his ordeal: Peter Weichsel and Alan Cokin for organizing the fund; Bart Bramley, his then regular partner, for his vigilance in keeping in touch almost daily and twice coming to visit Lou in Nashville; and, of course, Carol for the meals she cooked and all she did to make Lou more comfortabe. In the many hours we spent in conversation, it wasn't long before I realized his short term goal was to get to the Spring NABCs in Fort Worth to help his team defend the Vanderbilt they had won the year before. Amazingly, considering how badly he felt some days, he not only made it to Fort Worth, but, according to his teammates, he played as magnificently as ever. Their result in gaining the semifinals can attest to that.

Sitting down in our seats on the plane to come home, I said to him, "Heard you             played reat, tell me about some of the hands". He wanted no part of that, as he pulled out the hand records of some hands I'd played, he said, "No, let's go over these hands".

Considerate and unselfish - that's the way he was.

Not many days after we got back, when he had fought it about as long and hard as was possible, he went into the hospital for the last time. A few hours before he died, as I was approaching his room, the nurse stopped me and said, "I'm worried about Mr. Bluhm. He's been in and out of consciousness all day and I haven't been able to communicate with him at alI.  i said, "Let me see what I can do".

I sat down beside the bed, and, after calling his name a few times, he was lucid. I said, "Blummer, got a hand for ya

After what seemed like an eternity, he said, "OK"

 I gave him some hand and said, "Whata ya bid?"

 After an even longer pause, he finally made a bid. And then he closed his eyes and went back to sleep. And, you know what? I don't remember the hand nor his answer. But what I will always remember is ... he got it right, he made the right bid. Isn't that something? Probably the last words he uttered on this earth was a bridge bid, and true to his genius .. it was the right one. 

That's a sad story. And since this is a night for joy and celebration. It is with much        happiness that I present Lou Bluhm to the ACBL Bridge Hall Of Fame. In so doing        his name with his picture shall be enshrined in Memphis and the memory of a great      player, a loyal friend and a terrific guy shall be with us forever. 

Lou Bluhm, a Grand Life Master with 13,000 master points, was inducted to the Georgia Bridge Hall of Fame in 1989 and to the ACBL Hall of Fame in 2000. He died in 1990 at the age of 50.

 

1983 - EDGAR GAY

Edgar Gay loved bridge and played, directed, and taught whenever and wherever there was a need. From community centers to senior centers to venues opened specifically for bridge, he was there. Edgar was a fixture at tournaments in the southeast and taught in numerous locations across Atlanta. He developed a structured approach for teaching bridge, with his own specific lesson plans. As a player, he became a Life Master in 1966, an accomplishment of which he was extraordinarily proud. In addition to playing and teaching bridge, he began directing tournaments and actively participated on the board of Unit 114. In the late 1960s, Edgar served a term as President of Unit 114.

 

Prior to Edgar’s arrival on the Atlanta tournament scene, local sectional tournaments had not been very successful. Attendance was sparse and profit almost non-existent. Edgar took over as tournament chairman and dramatically increased tournament attendance and player enjoyment. Edgar worked closely at running tournaments with a young protégé, Jack Feagin, who was obviously groomed very well to later run very successful Atlanta tournaments.

Edgar Rudolf Gay was born Edgar Frohlich in Berlin, Germany on September 21, 1923. While an excellent student of mathematics and science in school, his greatest love was football, or soccer as it is called in this country. As a high school-aged athlete, he was selected to the all-Berlin team in 1937. On November 9, 1938, during the famous Kristallnacht or night of the broken glass, his parents’ store in Berlin was destroyed by Hitler youth. His cousin, historian Peter Gay writes of witnessing the destruction in his book My German Question. Realizing that Germany was no longer a safe place to live, the family packed what they could and left. While he and his family hoped to come directly to the United States, quotas from Germany had already been filled, so they decided to go first to Cuba and then immigrate to the USA from there. They originally planned to sail to Cuba on the SS St. Louis, but got to port sooner than expected and found passage on the Iberia. In the luckiest of turns, the Iberia delivered them safely to Cuba. The St. Louis, today known as “the ship of the damned,” was not allowed to dock anywhere and returned to Germany. 

Shortly thereafter, the family was able to emigrate to Georgia. They eventually settled in Atlanta, where the owner of a small grocery store allowed them to live in the back of the store at 10th and Peachtree in return for their running the store. Very proud to become American citizens and tired of having their name mispronounced, they translated their last name into English. Frohlich in German means to be happy or gay, so Edgar Frohlich became Edgar Gay. Several years later, the owner of the store died, so the family purchased the store and turned it into Gay’s Men’s Shop. When the store was to open they couldn’t afford all the stock they needed, so, displaying a card player’s moxie, they removed all the shirts and hats from their boxes, put them in display cases, and then put the boxes back up on top to make it appear they had more stock than they did.

When the United States entered World War II, Edgar joined the US Army and served in Military Intelligence. After the war, he returned to Atlanta and went to work at and later ran Gay’s Men’s Shops with his mother and his brother. He married Comer Hymes on February 4, 1951 and had a son named Milton and a daughter Barbara. He began playing bridge socially as a young adult, and moved quickly on to tournament bridge. Edgar also was a noted actor in the Atlanta theater scene with a rich bass voice. He played parts ranging from Curly in “Oklahoma” to the romantic Emile deBec in “South Pacific.” It was very common to hear Broadway musicals playing in his house and he was a strong influence on both his children being active in musical theater. He stood about 5’6” with a big round face, a bald head, and a quick smile. His jokes and stories were legendary. Despite being born in Germany he was proud to speak without even the slightest accent, “except for southern,” he would joke. An ex-athlete, he enjoyed most sports, and supported Atlanta’s professional sports franchises, especially the Atlanta Hawks. As a father, he coached both boys’ baseball and girls’ softball, and when Druid Hills High School first organized a soccer team, he attended practices as a coach/consultant and assisted the school’s first team coming in 3rd in the State. Lunch companions included head coaches from both the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, as well as sportscasters and other local notables. Having never finished high school or gone to college, he did the Atlanta newspaper’s crossword puzzles daily in ink. When asked about this once, he replied, “When you know the answer, you do it in ink.”

Edgar Rudolf Gay died on January 17, 1981 in a way he couldn’t have choreographed better if he had tried. He worked a tournament that night, then went with some of the other directors for a late night snack at the Varsity. He loved the onion rings. He drove home and, with his wife Comer, watched the Hawks play a game on the west coast. After his team won, he went to bed and died quietly in his sleep. 

Edgar Gay was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984, earning a spot in the Georgia Bridge Hall of Fame because of his extraordinary contributions and service to Georgia bridge, more so than for his accomplishments as a player. Nonetheless, Edgar was proud of every one of his lifetime total of 890.12 master points. 

 

 1982 - MARGARET WAGAR

Margaret Wagar, a woman who distinguished herself as a player and as an administrator, was one of the all-time great players. She became Life Master #37 in 1943, the fifth woman to earn the ranking and the first Southerner. She and Kay Rhodes share one of the most remarkable achievements in ACBL history – they won the Women's Pairs four consecutive years: 1955 through 1958. Margaret Wagar and Rhodes share another record, one of frustration. They were second in the Women's Teams for seven consecutive years, 1952 through1958.

Wagar's impressive record spans three decades. Her 33 National titles include wins in Women's and open competition: Women's Teams in 1940, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1964 and 1965; Chicago (now the Reisinger) in1941; Spingold in1946 and 1948; Women's Pairs in 1944, 1955, 1956, 1957 and1958; Master Mixed Teams in1942, 1945, 1948, 1954 and 1964; Open Pairs in1947 and 1948; Mixed Pairs in1948 and 1949, and Life Master Women's Pairs in1962. She was non-playing captain of the U.S. World Women's Teams in 1968 and 1972.

Wagar served on the ACBL Board of Directors from 1960 to 1972 and was named ACBL Honorary Member in 1979, an award given for meritorious service. During her term in office, she coined the saying "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." On August 31, 1982, a dinner was held at the Cherokee Town Club in Atlanta to honor Margaret Wagar, "Pride of the South." Excerpts from several of the speakers follow:

Richard Goldberg: "She has been described as the "Epitome of a Southern Lady and the personification of graciousness. Few people know that Margaret is a culinary artist and has been known to serve grits under glass, grits and truffles, and grits almondine to name a few of her specialties. This earned Margaret earned Margaret the title of 'grittiest person in Atlanta'."

 

Carol Sanders: "To know Margaret is to love her. Her demeanor with partner makes you so confident. Comfort is the key word."

 

Tommy Sanders: "A catalyst that set her apart from others - kindness, consideration, courtesy, charm and humor. Does it sound as if the ledger is in balance? The ledger is not in balance; we owe you. Carol and I are grateful to honor you for just being there and being you. That's the reason we are here tonight. I'd like to toast a lady who has had a positive effect on all our lives."

 

 

Former world champion Carol Sanders considers Wagar one of her role models. "She gave me such opportunities when I first started playing bridge. She was so dear to me." Sanders tells this story about Wagar's table presence and sense of humor.  "Margaret was playing at an NABC against someone who was known to try to get a look at your hand. Margaret was having none of this, so while declarer was studying the hand, she pretended to have a coughing fit. She opened her purse and took out her handkerchief. Then she detached the card – a queen – that declarer was looking for and folded it into the handkerchief and put it in her purse. If he could get a look at her hand, he wouldn't find the queen there. Sure enough, declarer took the finesse into Margaret. She opened her purse, produced the queen and won the trick. She wasn't going to let him read her."

Margaret Wagar was inducted to the Georgia Bridge Hall of Fame in 1983 and to the ACBL Hall of Fame in 1999.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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