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Peetes the real stars of golf tourney
October 25, 2017

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Pepper Peete said her late husband was more than just "The greatest African-American golfer in the history of the PGA before Tiger Woods." He was a great father, husband, and a man who gave much more of himself to others than the other way around.

Pepper was an honored guest Saturday at the inaugural Calvin Peete Classic at Magnolia Landing, where she joined a foursome and played along, and was surprised with a proclamation declaring Saturday as Calvin Peete Day in Lee County by Commissioner Brian Hamman.

The event was meant to raise money for the North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce Foundation. But it was also meant to honor a former North Fort Myers resident who, despite not picking up a golf club until age 23, became one of the top golfers of the 1980s, and a tireless philanthropist later in life.

"I got a call from Doug Dailey, one of the Chamber leaders that they wanted to put on a tournament in Calvin's honor. I thought it was a fantastic idea and they extended the invitation for me to come down," Peete said, who was married to Calvin for 28 years and had two girls, ages 24 and 21 and both golfers, with him before his death in 2015.

"I'm honored and thankful that this community would embrace Calvin, not forget him and give him this honor," Pepper said.

Calvin had five children from a previous marriage.

As for the tournament, Pepper said playing with her foursome of close friend Penny Paynen, Bryan Avery and Mark Wildman was a lot of fun.

"They were wonderful. We had the best time. I couldn't have been paired with a better group," Pepper said, whose foursome ended up tied for second. "At first, Bryan was carrying us, then we started carrying him, so we both got a little heavy."

Pepper said it was the man who mattered, and Calvin was among the best she ever knew because of his commitment to children.

"He was kind, generous, had a big heart, and the best quality he had was he wanted kids," Pepper said. "He wanted kids to advance and do well. He told them to mind their parents and get an education."

Calvin dropped out of school in eighth grade to work the fields, but would eventually get his GED after making it on the PGA Tour. Pepper said he told children that not all of them would become professional golfers, but they all had a chance to become professionals in other fields.

It was the idea of working hard and giving more than you get that Pepper said she wanted people to remember about Calvin the most.

"I want people to know he was a great man with a big heart, that he worked hard. If he wanted to accomplish something, he was going to get it done," Pepper said. "He wasn't a quitter, he was a bit of a perfectionist. He wasn't going to do it until he got it right."

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