Joe Hubbard spent summers as a caddy kid on the neighborhood golf course, one of many black kids carrying the bags of wealthy white guests through carefully manicured fairways and greens.
One day a man gave him a threesome. He took the club to his family home in Shreveport, Louisiana and rocked it like all the golfers he had watched, according to his wife, Virginia Hubbard, of Kansas City, Kansas. When he and his younger brother brought back handfuls of golf balls found during their long days on the course, he would grab his club and try to hit them over the house or in the block. He broke a window once.
Joe, who had not played golf for a decade due to his worsening heart condition, died on December 22 in his sleep, with his wife by his side. He was 89 years old.
His body was laid to rest at Leavenworth National Cemetery on Tuesday, adding another limestone to the rows of graves for fallen service members. Family and friends mourned a man they felt was a lot like the game he revered so much – calm, gentle and patient, with a sense of respect and cordiality.
Growing up in the 1940s, Joe couldn’t belong to any of the local courses – the Professional Golf Association itself didn’t lift its uniquely Caucasian stance until 1961, making it the last professional sports league to do so. But the course where Joe worked let the caddies play on Monday, the day reserved for the maintenance of the course. A three-iron was all he needed to drive, hit approach shots and putt.
He played as much as he could with friends as a child but, after graduating from high school, he became a supply specialist in the US Air Force and put his golf game into action. full development on the back burner. His love of the sport, however, has stuck with him.
This led to him becoming a regular face of classes across Kansas City years later, where he met the friends he would spend each weekend happily competing with, and the woman he eventually married.
“He loved to play golf and he played golf almost every weekend when he could,” said Virginia Hubbard over the phone. “They would play in all weather, and on the weekends they would go out of town. “
Although he never had children, his niece, Andrea Wiley, remembers taking on the role of uncle like it was a full-time job. She first left her hometown of Houston in the 1980s to attend Kansas City Community College, living with Joe and Virginia. Her uncle often came to pick her up from class, rain or shine, sleet or snow.
She said she would remember being with him above the stove, cooking up the southern delicacies of her youth – black-eyed peas, collard greens, okra. It was the way he made sure she was okay without having to say much that he would miss, she said.
“He was very calm but very observant and very kind,” said Wiley, who lives in Washington, DC. “He was very calm demeanor at all times. I don’t think I ever heard him swear.
Born December 14, 1932 in Shreveport, Joe was the first child in his family, which grew to include his three brothers and two sisters. They were far from rich but could live in a solid home, thanks to their resident grandmother who was able to afford it with an inheritance. Joe and his brother had a paper route to making money, in addition to their summer caddy gigs.
His family left for California while he was in high school, marking the start of some of his life on the Golden Coast. He was a postman for a time after graduation, but ended up enlisting in the Air Force, inspired by the wave of black men joining the ranks for a living, Hubbard said. He spent three years stationed at the former Hamilton Air Force Base in Marin County, occasionally traveling to destinations like Alaska.
He headed east to Kansas City after being honorably released and living in California for several years. He moved to be closer to his cousins in Kansas City. He never wanted to move again.
Joe landed a job at Ford, working first on the assembly line, then later in an office job. His weekend havens were the Swope Memorial Golf Course in southern Kansas City and the Heart of America Golf Course, located a mile and a half away.
There he made friendships on the fairways, and he and his pals would later compete in tournaments across the Midwest hosted by black-run golf associations like the MacAdams Golf Club in Wichita, founded in the 1920s. They have competed in places like Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Illinois.
He first saw Virginia at a tournament in Richmond, Missouri, but didn’t speak to her, just asking his friends who she was. They met later while playing at the Swope Memorial and one Friday he asked her if he could take her to dinner; She said yes. They crossed paths several times this weekend during a tournament they were both playing, before their first date.
They finally went to get some spaghetti. About eight months later, they got married.
Virginia Hubbard hates to admit it, but when the two played golf together, she usually won. At a tournament in St. Louis, she recalls there had been a long drive contest on one of the holes where a backboard in the fairway marked the male and female champions up to that point. When Joe and his group approached their balls, they saw his name on one of the markers. His bullet was right behind.
“To be fair, they hit a little further than us,” said Virginia Hubbard. “But it made no difference. The guys were still teasing him saying that I was outdoing him.
Joe was proud of his golfing accomplishments, such as the four holes in one he had accumulated during his long period of play, including two at Swope. He owned a license plate frame that simply read, “Four holes in one.” “
But the reason he loved the game, said Virginia Hubbard, was the people and places he introduced it to.
The game might not always have liked him when he was a kid growing up in the Jim Crow South. He always knew he wanted to play it anyway.
“He didn’t have any clubs other than this three iron,” said Virginia Hubbard. “And he would just shoot that three iron.”
He is survived by his wife, Virginia; niece, Wiley; brother, Sam Frazer; sister, Trudy; and other nieces and nephews.
Cecil Smith, an army veteran and church deacon who balanced multiple jobs to support his family, died Dec.31, the family said in an obituary, shared by Lawrence A. Jones & Sons Funeral Chapel. He was 82 years old.
Born December 29, 1939, Cecil grew up in the Rosedale neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, with a brother, according to the obituary. He graduated from Rosedale High School in 1957 and, from 1961 to 1963, served in the United States Army.
He married the love of his life, Sandra Smith, in 1967. They had three children.
Cecil worked at Hallmark and the U.S. Postal Service at the same time, leaving a job at the end of the day to report to each other, the family said. He worked at Hallmark for 30 years and at USPS for 40 years.
He was known among those close to him as a generous spirit, who sent a cash gift or even a barbecue dish across the country to show that he cared for him. He often called his friends and family and his phone repeatedly rang as a direct line, the family said. He had a myriad of slogans, such as, “I’m just a poor old country man at the end of a dirt road.” “
The most important thing in Smith’s life was God, and he was a member of the Baptist Missionary Church for over 50 years, eventually obtaining the role of deacon, the family said.
Smith is survived by his children, Gregory Smith, Marc Smith and Margo Smith-Branham; nine grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; a goddaughter ; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
Amazair “Mack” McAllister
Amazair “Mack” McAllister, father of four and entrepreneur who founded the Standard Externcing Company of Kansas City, died Dec. 26, his family announced in an obituary posted on the Watkins Heritage Chapel website. He was 86 years old.
McAllister was born June 13, 1935 in Morrilton, Arkansas, the sixth of eight children, according to the family. He moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 1952 and attended Lincoln Junior College for a year.
Five years later, in 1957, he married Sammie Bishop and they had two sons. He also had two sons from a previous relationship.
He was an employee of Hertz Car Rental for 40 years, his family said. His business knowledge helped him start the Standard Externcing Company, which his family describes as one of the oldest black-owned businesses in Kansas City. It remains open today.
The man best known by his nickname “Mack” was known for his compassion and sincerity, as well as his love of travel and boating. He has been described by his family as a “true Democrat”, watching MSNBC regularly. He belonged to the Progressive Missionary Baptist Church.
McAllister is survived by his four sons, Amazair McAllister Jr., Byron McAllister, Jermaine McAllister and Rodney Chriswell; two brothers, William McAllister and James McAllister; seven grandchildren; and several nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Deborah Ford, a former University of Kansas Medical Center worker who enjoyed seafood, casinos and spending time with her three children, died on Dec. 16, her family said in an obituary shared by Golden Gate Funeral & Cremation Services. She was 68 years old.
Ford was born February 16, 1953 in Kansas City, Kansas, the family said. She graduated from Bishop Ward High School in 1971 and attended Donnelly College, a small private Catholic university in her hometown. The following year, she married her husband and the two had three children. She started working for Kansas University Medical Center in 1978, where she spent 23 years before retiring.
His Christian faith was a big part of his life; she was a member of Strangers Rest Baptist Church, sang in the church choir, and volunteered in the Missions Department. She also enjoyed fishing, playing cards in the casino and spending evenings with her daughters shopping and dining.
She is survived by her daughters, Dionne Love and Sherita Ford; son, Tearee Ford Jr .; mother, Opal Murphy; sisters, Carol Garth and Janette Gregg; seven grandchildren; two nephews; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.