— James R Hand died at 101, in Manchester, Vermont on November 13, 2018. He had a long life and will be forever remembered for his kindness, his humility, his faith, and his love of family, particularly his wife Betty. Jim’s many friends will remember his integrity, his kind, soft spoken manner and his deep appreciation and love for the game of golf and the many friends that he made all over the world.
James R Hand was born on January 12, 1917 in Cutchogue, NY, the son of James A. and Agnes Hand. He got an early start in golf at age 8, caddying for his father at his local course, the North Fork Country Club. Thus, began a lifelong love of golf as well as a profound interest in young people and caddies. Jim honed his game at the North Folk course, winning the North Fork Country Club championship at age 16. Jim often said, “every good thing in my life came out of caddying” and he continued that interest throughout his lifetime, often advising young people and helping them enter college, the job market or to find a career. After graduation from Mattituck High School, Jim, a man of great faith, studied to become a Catholic priest at Cathedral College and Immaculate Conception Seminary. Prior to taking his vows, Jim chose another path, that led him to a career in public relations, service in the US Army, and eventually a lengthy career in the Westchester, New York banking business. World War II and Army service interrupted Jim’s night courses at New York and Fordham Universities, his daytime job in public relations and golf.
While a Captain in the Medical Administrative Corps, stationed at a medical supply depot in England, Jim was introduced to Betty “Gus” Gossweiler of Pelham, NY, who was with the Red Cross. They were married in 1946 in New York City. Jim shared his love of golf and Gus shared her skiing expertise in her family homeland of Switzerland. They both soon excelled at one another’s sports and enjoyed a lovely life together competing on golf courses around the world and tackling the ski slopes of Vermont, Switzerland, and the west, while sharing these experiences with their sons. Jim and Gus settled in Westchester, NY where they raised their sons, Jim and John. After his United States Army service, Jim was honorably discharged in April 1956 and received the Bronze Star Medal.
Jim joined the National Bank of Westchester in 1954, retiring as Chairman in 1980. He was also a former instructor at the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University and was the recipient of an honorary degree from Mercy College.
James R Hand served as president of the Westchester Golf Association as well as the Westchester County Bankers Association, a combination of both of his passions and areas of expertise. He was a Director of the United Way of Northern Westchester and the Westchester Chapter of the American Red Cross. Jim’s many contributions in the metropolitan New York area include trustee positions at New York Medical College, Harlem Savings Bank, and he served as Treasurer of the American Cancer Society, Westchester Division.
Jim was a member of the executive committee of the Metropolitan Golf Association from 1962- 66 and served as Vice President. He received the Met Golf Association Distinguished Service Award in 1986.
Jim was extremely proud when the Hand Family was recognized as the Golf Family of the Year in 1963, by the Metropolitan Golf Writers. That year, Jim and Gus were both Sleepy Hollow Club Champions and sons Jim and John were Junior Club Champion and Runner-up, respectively. The Hand family continued their love of golf and skiing, eventually building a ski house in Vermont in 1964, which led to sons Jim and John both settling in Manchester after college, establishing their successful local business, Hand Motors, and raising their families in Vermont.
Jim’s involvement in the United States Golf Association began with his appointment to the Executive Committee in 1975. From 1978 to 1983, Jim served as Chairman of the USGA Championships Committee. Elected Secretary in ’78 and Vice President in ’80, Jim began his term as USGA President in 1984. He was well known for his good judgement, sense of fair play and was a leader in the true sense of the word. During Jim’s tenure at the USGA, he directed a capital campaign to raise funds for turf grass research, the USGA headquarters, Golf House Museum and an endowment for the future of golf. James R Hand was highly respected for his common sense and “grass roots” approach to administration. Jim captained the World Amateur Golf Team in 1988 and continued to serve the USGA, as a member of the Bob Jones Award Committee.
1989 US Open
As chairman of the USGA Championships Committee, Jim had an influence on the 1985 USGA decision to award Oak Hill the 1989 US Open, never imagining that he would eventually be the 27th inductee to the Hill of Fame at Oak Hill, along with his friend, golf course architect, Robert Trent Jones, at that 1989 Open. Jim was happy to have hosted his first US Open as USGA president in 1984, at his home course, Winged Foot.
Jim and Gus enjoyed their years in the United States Seniors Golf Association, traveling nationally and internationally. Jim was a member of the US Seniors’ International Team on 24 occasions and Captain of that Team in 1989-1990. He was Treasurer of the US Seniors for six years and was awarded the prestigious William C. Campbell Award from the USSGA in 2011, of special import to Jim, as he and Bill Campbell were longtime friends.
James R Hand was a member of several golf clubs including, Sleepy Hollow, Winged Foot, Pine Valley, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St Andrews, Seminole Golf Club and Ekwanok Country Club. Jim’s best round at Seminole was his first round there as a guest, where he shot 68. At Sleepy Hollow, Jim was two-time Club president, a four-time club champion, and three-time Senior Club Champion At one time, a 1 handicap player, Jim was Club Champion in 1991 and Senior Club Champion in 1983, 84, 89 and 1991 at Ekwanok Country Club in Vermont. Jim enjoyed his retirement years in Florida, playing golf at Seminole and spending summers back in Vermont, enjoying the green mountains, friends, and family, including grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Survivors and Services
Predeceased by his brother Henry, and sister Dorothy, James R Hand was also predeceased by his wife, Betty “Gussie”, in 2005. Jim is survived by his two sons; Jim of Dorset, VT and his wife Marilyn and John of Juno Beach, FL, and his wife Kimet. He is also survived by grandchildren: Julie Hand, Thomas Hand, Jennifer Muldoon, Jamie Hand, Elizabeth Mackey, and Sarah Wilde and Kitt Laidlaw. Jim leaves seven great-grandchildren as well: Claire, Maddison, Teddy, Sam, Lang, Malin and Tove. Jim is also survived by his nephew, Rich Hand and niece, Virginia Durrett.
Private family services for James R Hand will be held in Manchester followed by burial in East Dorset, VT. A Memorial service is planned for May 18, 2019, at Ekwanok Country Club, Manchester, Vermont. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in care of the funeral home to Burr and Burton Academy or Riley Rink at Hunter Park or the Evans Scholars Foundation c/o The Western Golf Association. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the Brewster & Shea Funeral Service Box 885 Manchester, VT 05255
A Memorial service is planned for May 18, 2019, at Ekwanok Country Club, Manchester, Vermont.