OBITUARY

Jack Donald Fleck

November 8, 1921March 21, 2014

Jack D. Fleck, 92, passed away March 21, 2014 in Fort Smith after a brief Illness. Prior to his death he was the oldest living U.S. Open Golf Champion. He was born November 8, 1921 in Bettendorf, Iowa to Louis and Elsie Greneau Fleck. Growing up on a farm during the Great Depression, Jack along with his two older brothers and two younger sisters, had many chores and small jobs to help out at home. Jack and his brothers worked jobs such as chopping wood, weeding gardens, picking apples, raking leaves, and caddying. His introduction to golf was the summer of 1936 when he and a friend hitchhiked 15 miles to the Davenport, IA Country Club in an effort to get a job caddying. He ended up getting a job as fore caddy for the 1936 Western Open Golf Championship. As Jack began caddying at Davenport C.C. he was allowed to play Monday mornings before noon. His clubs were a wood shaft 5 iron and a steel shaft 7 iron. Jack graduated from Davenport High School in 1939 and was determined to be a professional golfer. In 1940 he was hired as head assistant at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. He joined the military in 1942 and served in the U.S. Navy as a quartermaster where he participated in the D-Day invasion from a British rocket-firing ship off Normandy's Utah Beach. Within two weeks after his discharge from the service in 1945, Jack was on the PGA's winter golf tour with pro friends trying to qualify for PGA Tour events. After a few years of competing in local and PGA Tour events, he decided to play full-time on the Tour for two years. Within six months, Jack had his first win — on the biggest stage in men's professional golf — at the 1955 U.S. Open. He won an 18-hole Sunday playoff by three strokes over his idol, Ben Hogan, at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. His first round deficit of nine strokes, was the largest overcome by a U.S. Open winner. He made three playoffs on tour in 1960, winning at the Phoenix Open in February. He tied for third at the U.S. Open in 1960, and won his third and last tour event in October 1961, also in a playoff. Jack finished in the top ten at the PGA Championship in 1962 at Aronimink near Philadelphia, a tie for seventh, then left the tour in 1963. He was a club pro in Wisconsin, Illinois, and California, and attempted a comeback on tour in 1970. In 1975, he qualified for the U.S. Open in 1977 at age 55, but missed the cut. Less than two years later, he won the PGA Seniors' Championship in February 1979, also won in a playoff, a year prior to the formation of the Senior PGA Tour. He was inducted into three Hall of Fames: the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame in 1990, the Quad City Hall of Fame, and the Arkansas Hall of Fame in 2000. Jack moved to Arkansas in 1988, and the Lil’ Bit a Heaven Golf Club in Magazine, AR opened in 1992, with its main feature being double greens with separate pin placements. The course flooded a year after opening, and he sold his 1955 U.S. Open medal to raise money to repair the course, believing that the proceeds from the medal were more useful to him than having the medal itself. He not only owned the golf course, but he designed it and oversaw the daily operations. The course closed in 2003. Jack was a Member of Hardscrabble Country Club for more than 30 years, where he hit balls or played as often as the weather allowed. He was very active in First Tee of Fort Smith, offering his time and talent to teach young boys and girls the game of golf. He is survived by his wife, Carmen Fleck; one son, Craig H. Fleck of Oroville, CA; one sister, Shirley Schwerdifeger of Grants Pass, OR; one granddaughter, Jennifer Self; one great-granddaughter, Lexy Self; and extended Family. Jack was preceded in death by his wives, Lynn Burnsdale Fleck who died in 1975, and Mariann Fleck who died in 2000. He was also predeceased by his two brothers and one sister. Memorial Service will be 2:00 P.M. Tuesday, March 25, 2014, at First United Methodist Church in Fort Smith, with private burial in U.S. National Cemetery. Services are under the direction of Edwards Funeral Home. The family will visit friends following the service in the church narthex. Viewing for Mr. Fleck will be Sunday and Monday, from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, and Tuesday from 8:00 AM – 12 Noon. Memorials may be made to The First Tee of Fort Smith, 5800 Geren Road, Fort Smith, AR 72916 or the First United Methodist Church 200 North 15th Fort Smith, AR 72901. Online condolences may be sent to www.edwardsfuneralhome.com

Services

PREVIOUS SERVICES:

  • Memorial Service Tuesday, March 25, 2014

PREVIOUS SERVICES:

  • Visitation
REMEMBERING

Jack Donald Fleck

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Gregory Ward

December 13, 2014

Mr. Fleck was a positive influence on everyone he met, encouraging, direct, matter of fact. A gentleman in every way. Amazing and Generous.
Incredible Life of a legend that walked among Legends.

March 25, 2014

So sorry for your loss. If Craig Fleck or Jennifer Self could please call me, I'd appreciate it. Wanted to come to the funeral, but had surgery 2 weeks ago and can't make it. Please call 479 675 6002. I have several stories about Jack because I helped Craig and Jack build Lil Bit O Heaven Golf course. He lived a very productive life and I'm sure he will be missed! Always Annette Cotton

Skip Wofford

March 25, 2014

Dear Family, We pray for you God's peace and comfort. Craig, we'll always remember your Dad's kindness to us. May God bless you and all your family. Skip & Nancy Wofford

March 25, 2014

Kami and I are in prayer for Carman, Craig, Jennifer and Family. Jack treated me like a son and welcomed me into his home many times at Lil Bit Of Heaven. He will be missed. Mike Rosser.

March 24, 2014

From the "Bettendorf" Fleck's, we would like to send our condolences on the loss of Uncle Jack. He will be missed. We have very fond memories of him and will never forget. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. Damian and Linda Brunt and family

March 24, 2014

Our condolences to Carmen, Craig and Family. Jack and I were golf teamates in high school and caddied and played together at the Davenport C.C. He was always a humble winner and gracious loser. In my estimation he was the greatest ball striker, tee to green, that I have ever seen. I walked several practice rounds with him at the U.S. Open in 1956 and his control of the golf ball was amazing! And he was a great guy to be around. I have many books and articles about him and will always cherish the memories we had together. I know he is with his Lord and that was important to him. Vic and Jane Siegel

Norman Alexander

March 24, 2014

My friend, My teacher, My brother. May you rest in peace and I know you will make heaven a better place. God Bless You and Yours. Norman and Sandy Alexander

Terry L.` Van Theemsche

March 24, 2014

To Aunt Carman, Craig, and family. I was sad to learn of the passing of Uncle Jack, yesterday. On the "Van Theemcshe" side of the family, I send our condolence to you. May the good Lord be with you during your time of need.

March 23, 2014

It was great working with Jack at Lil' Bit of Heaven. He will be missed.

Kennie Sanderson

March 23, 2014

It was great working with I at A Lil't Bit of Heaven.

Kennie Sanderson