As the Sampson Community College Foundation prepares for its upcoming 11th annual Sampson Classic Golf Tournament, the effort this year is bittersweet.
The tournament, which was held in honor of longtime college supporter and Foundation board member William M. “Bill” Johnson Jr. since 2007, will now be held in remembrance of him.
“Out of much appreciation and respect, this year’s Sampson Classic will be played in memory of Mr. Bill Johnson,” shared SCC Foundation president Chuck Spell, describing Johnson, who passed away just this past June at the age of 94, as “so dedicated to this community and to the Sampson Community College Foundation.”
Knowing how much the college, the Foundation, and the golf tournament meant to Johnson, Foundation board members decided to make a few changes to this year’s event, wishing it to serve not only as a fundraiser but also as tribute to a man who Lisa Turlington, executive director of the SCC Foundation, said “championed educational causes,” particularly ones in his beloved Sampson County.
Instead of the tournament taking place on a Thursday as it has in the past, this year a reception and silent auction will be held at Coharie Country Club on Thursday, Nov. 7 beginning at 6 p.m. as a precede to the tournament which will follow on Friday.
In addition to it serving as another avenue for fundraising, the reception will also be “an opportunity to pay tribute to Mr. Johnson, his life, and his support of the college,” explained Turlington.
With Johnson’s wife Ida and other family members present, it will “really be an evening of fellowship and camaraderie,” she noted, adding that members of the Johnson family and other friends will have the opportunity during the reception to share their fondest memories of Johnson.
“This is the 11th tournament and we’re really excited about it. We wanted to change it up a little due to Mr. Bill,” said Foundation board member and tournament co-chairman Neal Strickland. “The college was such a major part of Mr. Bill, and he and Mrs. Ida have always understood and still understand the importance of education. The Foundation and the college itself always had a huge place in his heart, and he always did all he could to further improve the college’s education, Foundation, and scholarships.”
The reception is primarily for those participating in the following day’s tournament, but aware of the far-reaching influence that Johnson had in the community, the Foundation decided to open the event up to others. Interested persons who would like to attend the reception and silent auction and who are not participating in the tournament can do so for $20.
Some of the items set to be auctioned off are a quail hunting excursion for four at George High Plantation by Holden Dubose; Carolina Hurricanes box seats and parking passes for 12; two hours of math tutoring by SCC instructor, Jen Evanson; 20 bales of pine straw donated by Amos and Merrie McLamb; hand carved chopping block by Dickie Smith; an assortment of fresh pork from Smithfiel; a football signed by Super Bowl-winning Pittsburg Steelers donated by Steve Stefanovich; a dinner for eight prepared by Debbilious Valenti; box lunches from the Ashford Inn; a framed print donated by local artist, Paula Fitzpatrick; and eight signed first editions of biographies of high profile basketball coaches including “Beyond Basketball: Coach K’s Words for Success” by Mike Krzyzewski, “The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching” by Dean Smith; “Bounce Back: Overcoming Setbacks to Succeed in Business and In Life” by John Calipar, just to name a few.
On Friday, Nov. 8 golfers will return to Coharie Country Club for the tournament. Registration will start 9 a.m. at which time breakfast provided by McDonalds will also be served.
According to Turlington, around thirty teams are expected to play in this year’s tournament. All teams will tee off at 10 a.m. in a four man super ball format when they hear the sound of the shotgun start.
After the tournament, an awards ceremony will follow. According to tournament co-chairmen Strickland and Bill Fulton, flight winners will receive prizes and all participants will be eligible for door prizes. Additionally, gold sponsor Century Link will sponsor the “Closest to the Pin” and the “Longest Drive” contests. Fellow gold sponsor Go Automotive will donate a car to the golfer who makes a hole in one.
Other tournament sponsors include Legacy sponsors, Prestage Farms and Baker Motors, Inc. of Charleston, S.C.; Platinum sponsor, Schindler Elevator Corp.; and Gold sponsors, Dubose Strapping, Hog Slat, and Murphy Brown.
As in the past, the proceeds from the golf tournament, along with those from this year’s reception and silent auction, will go toward funding student scholarships and faculty grants, and providing program support.
“We’re shooting for $20,000 after expenses. Last year, we raised just under that,” said Turlington of this year’s goal, pointing out that it costs a student about $1,800 to $2,000 per year to attend the community college, even more if the student is enrolled in one of the more expensive programs, like the college’s nursing program. “Ten to eleven students could be educated for $20,000.”
It was helping students through these scholarships that really meant the most to Johnson, Turlington remarked as she chatted with Johnson’s wife, Ida, Wednesday evening.
“It (the college) meant everything to him. He was really interested in the scholarships,” agreed Ida who was married to Johnson for 74 years.
SCC student Heather Goodrich has received the Johnson scholarship for the past two years and had the opportunity to meet the Johnsons during a past tournament.
“She’s a lovely girl. I got the nicest note from her when Bill passed away. I was really impressed with her,” recalled Ida, grateful to have met just one of the promising students who has been helped by the scholarships made possible through the tournament.
As she talked with Turlington about this year’s event, Ida reminisced about her late husband.
“He loved the game (of golf),” she shared, calling the tournament “his little baby.”
“He was one of kind, a good Christian fella,” she continued, agreeing and smiling when Turlington referred to Johnson as charming and handsome. “He did a lot for people that people don’t know about. He loved this town. He always worked for it to be a better place.”
It is with Johnson in mind and with that same spirit that the Foundation and those participating in the tournament anticipate this year’s event, acknowledged Turlington.
“This is the first one he’s not going to attend,” she noted,” but I know he will be there in spirit.”
For more information about the tournament and reception/silent auction, please call 910-592-8081, ext. 2042 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.