Golf outing celebrates legacy of givingIt seems like only yesterday that Superior lost a great advocate who was, and still is, so important to the youth of the city. Dick Reder left us on January 7, 1992. Time has gone by much too quickly, but his sons, Rich and Paul, have carried on what Dick started many years ago. Today marks the 19th Annual Dick Reder Golf Outing, hosted by Mark Carlson and the Nemadji Golf Course.
By: Don Leighton, Superior Telegram
The following is another “Have Fun or Get Out of the Way” column by award-winning writers Don Leighton and Mike Granlund and their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola, which runs occasionally in the Superior Telegram.
It seems like only yesterday that Superior lost a great advocate who was, and still is, so important to the youth of the city.
Dick Reder left us on January 7, 1992. Time has gone by much too quickly, but his sons, Rich and Paul, have carried on what Dick started many years ago.
Today marks the 19th Annual Dick Reder Golf Outing, hosted by Mark Carlson and the Nemadji Golf Course. Play begins with a shot-gun start at 11:30 a.m., and 35 five-person teams have entered with the promise of great weather, great fun and friends galore.
The entry fee for each team is $500 and includes green fees, two carts (guaranteed to be fast by Steve “Mario Andretti” Flagstad and with greens slicker than Mark “Teflon” Carlson), free Miller Beer, a steak dinner provided by Superior Meats and chances to win great prizes. Proceeds go to a very worthwhile organization — YMCA Strong Kids — so it is another of those win-win situations Lance and Billy love so much.
Dick’s desire to help support the youth of Superior and youth organizations was a passion, and his sons have kept his legacy alive.
Besides his generosity, Dick was well known for something else. His resemblance to Mike Ditka, former NFL star and current ESPN football analyst, was something to behold. Dick was often mistaken for Ditka, even in Ditka’s own restaurant in Chicago.
Diane, Dick’s wife, tells of the time her husband was in Chicago on business and went to Ditka’s restaurant for dinner.
“The waitress thought he was her boss and I am sure gave the best of service,” Diane said. “Without knowing Ditka’s wine and dinner preferences, he ordered the same wine and smoked pork chops that ‘Iron Mike’ favored.”
She also remembers when she and Dick were at a Vikings game in Minneapolis. The Bears had played an earlier game in Chicago, and Ditka was the coach. During the Vikings game, the television cameras focused on Dick. Announcer Joe Theismann posed the question, “How did Mike Ditka get from Chicago to Minneapolis so quickly?”
The cameras kept coming back to Dick, not knowing what to think.
Dick developed friendships over the years with professional athletes, and he used those connections to help the kids of Superior. Brett Hull, Ray Nitschke of the Packers and many others lent their support, with Dick leading the way.
When the Superior Ice Arena (SAHA) was built, Dick was the major financial supporter. He and Mertz Mortorelli were good friends, and Dick would hire athletes from UWS to work at his business. Basketball stars “Bubs” Watson and Willie “The Fly” Reed, among others, benefited from Reder’s compassion for young people.
Paul Reder remembers his dad could never say no to a kid.
“My dad was always sponsoring teams and helping kids out,” Paul said. “He wanted to make a difference and always wanted to make sure that every kid had something.”
That legacy is now continued through the annual golf outing.
Cooper and Cathedral schools and the Bong Center playgrounds, the Boys and Girls Club, gymnastics, baseball, hockey, football, Special Olympics, the YMCA and countless other kids’ programs have benefited from the eighteen previous Dick Reder Memorial Golf Outings.
Rich Reder remembers how the golf outing started nineteen years ago.
“Paul and I were wondering how we could honor our dad and continue what he had started — golf outings to raise money for great causes in Superior,” Rich said. “We decided on the outing that celebrates its nineteenth year today. I think we are the second longest fundraiser at Nemadji.”
Dick also played an important role in the history of the Nemadji Golf Course.
“Dick was instrumental in our Pro-Am Tournament, in getting youth golf started and vitally important with his financial support during the expansion of Nemadji,” said golf professional Mark Carlson of Nemadji. “Without his support and influence, we would not be where we are today, with one of the finest public golf courses in the upper Midwest. He was a true friend who is missed by many every day.”
Among the friends who knew Dick best is Del Kangas. He can pretty much sum up what Dick Reder was all about.
“It is hard to put into a few words who Dick was. He was a man who loved family, a loyal friend, a fierce competitor, and more than that, a man of compassion. He was successful in his business and very quietly gave to groups that helped those in need. No one really knew how big his heart was,” Kangas said. “I still miss our talks and think of him often.”
Dick met his bride-to-be Diane at a dance in Milwaukee. Dick was a drummer in a band. (There’s something about a rock star that is irresistible.)
They were married on August 23, 1958, and moved to Superior in 1971, where they raised five children. Rich and Paul still live in Superior; Toni is in Hudson, Wis.; Chris is in Las Vegas; and Holly in Waterloo, Iowa.
Rich and Paul are continuing to help the youth of Superior with the same generosity and community service their dad began so long ago. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised and given by the Reder family.
The golf scramble being held today honors Dick’s legacy of giving.
He will be remembered with stories of his many exploits and successes of his short life, and also for his uncanny resemblance to Ditka.
Dick always wanted was to meet Mike Ditka, and a meeting was in the works when Dick passed away.
That would have made a great photo op. Both were born on October 18 — Ditka in 1939 and Reder in 1936 — and they had much in common.
Ditka used to said, “You’re never a loser until you quit trying.”
I can hear Dick Reder saying that to his boys when they were young. I don’t know if he ever uttered those exact words, but I guarantee he said something similar.
What the Reder family has done, and continues to do, exemplifies those words. They will never quit trying to make the youth of Superior better, and because of their presence and generosity, they are true winners.
Opinions and story ideas can be e-mailed to columnist Don Leighton at firstname.lastname@example.org.