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James D. Skyes

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James D. Sykes of Audubon, Pennsylvania, formerly of Meadowbrook and Bonita Bay Florida, died on October 21, 2012 with his family by his side. Jim leaves behind his wife of nearly 50 years, Georgia (Sue) Soeffing, and children Andy (Janet Gerhard), Dana Sykes Breslin (Jim Breslin) and five adoring grandchildren; Andrew, Sumner, James Thomas, Garrett and Alyssa. Jim is also survived by his brother Thomas Sykes and his wife Fran and their family. Born on May 27th 1934 in Philadelphia, PA, to William and Lavinia Garrett Sykes, Jim graduated from Cheltenham High School, and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill with a BS in Business Economics. As an ROTC Graduate in 1956, Sykes was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, United States Air Force. Sykes served three years in the United States Air Force as a multi-engine pilot and Supply Officer and was released from Active Duty in 1959 as a First Lieutenant. The following ten years Jim served as Secretary, Sykes Brothers, Inc. - manufacturers of woolen carpet yarn. He then spent several years as President of a national golf advertising specialty firm before he entered the golf management field. In 1975, Sykes was named Executive Director of the Golf Association of Philadelphia, he directed The Women's Golf Association of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Golf Association and the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust since the mid-1970's until his retirement in 2000 to battle cancer. A skilled player, Sykes was a semi-finalist in the 1949 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, won the Philadelphia Junior Boys' Championship in 1951 and was Pennsylvania Amateur Champion in 1954. His other golf achievements include two victories in the prestigious Pine Valley Crump Cup and the club championships at Old York Road, Pine Valley, Huntingdon Valley and Bonita Bay. During his career he oversaw the first computer implementation for handicap and tournament administration in local/regional golf associations. The three Associations realized substantial growth in membership and financial resources while providing additional and improved services under Sykes' direction. A major milestone of Sykes' tenure was the celebration of the Golf Association of Philadelphia's Centennial in 1997. Special events included the kick-off dinner, a black tie event that attracted some 1,300 golfers to the Philadelphia Convention Center. Other events include an inter-city match with the Metropolitan Golf Association and the Founders' Cup, a competition at each of the Association's four founding clubs. The Centennial Celebration attracted notable golfers such as then Governor Tom Ridge and the infamous Arnold Palmer. Not so notable golfer Ed Rendell also presided over the evening. Sykes coordinated with author James W. Finegan to publish A Centennial Tribute to Golf in Philadelphia, the comprehensive 100-year history of golf in Philadelphia. On the national scene Sykes has been a member of the International Association of Golf Administrators since 1975 and was President in 1983. Other memberships included the Club Managers Association of America and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. He is a member of the Golf Digest course-ranking panel and the USGA's nominating committee for 2002. Locally he has served on the Board of the Meadowbrook School and the Council of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. He was an original Board member of the Philadelphia Scholastic Golf Association and served two terms on the Board of Governors of Huntingdon Valley Country Club. Most recently, Jim founded Kids on the Hill, a non-profit that gives inner city youth the opportunity to learn golf etiquette, rules, and history. Kids on the Hill is a vital part of activities for Abington and Philadelphia PAL. Services for Jim Sykes are to be held Saturday October 27th, 2012, 11:00 a.m. at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 415 East Athens Avenue, Ardmore, PA. Pastor Skip McDowell officiating. In lieu of flowers the family invites you to make a gift to Jim's favorite charities, The J. Wood Platt Caddy Scholarship in care of the Golf Association of Philadelphia, and Kids on the Hill.

Published in The Times Herald on Oct. 24, 2012
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