Tournament honors businesswoman’s memoryA day of golf and giving took place at Pattison’s Golf Club last month in honor of Nellie Bird, who owned and operated Les Bird’s Bar in South Superior for 50 years.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
A day of golf and giving took place at Pattison’s Golf Club last month in honor of Nellie Bird, who owned and operated Les Bird’s Bar in South Superior for 50 years.
“It was a beautiful day,” said Bird’s niece, Pat Cronin. “Her memory was right there.”
One hundred people took part in the Nellie Bird Memorial Golf Event.
“We had a ball,” said Cronin, who now owns Les Bird’s, 5801 Tower Ave. “We’re hoping to do it yearly.” She credited Penny and Mike Cragin of Superior Meats with coming up with the idea and organizing the tournament. It became, Cronin said, a big South Superior event.
“It was my wife,” Mike Cragin said. “She was very good friends with Nellie.” For a decade, Nellie put on a yearly golf tournament for her late husband, Les. Penny Cragin mentioned after a game of golf with her husband that it would be nice to put one on for Nellie.
“She was just a really nice person,” Cragin said when asked why he and his wife decided to hold the event. Word spread, and the tournament was launched. It was, Cronin said, a great success.
“In memory of her, we lived it up,” she said.
And proceeds from the tournament — more than $2,000 — was earmarked for Nellie’s favorite charity, the Salvation Army.
“For years and years and years that was her charity of choice,” Cronin said.
Nellie would send checks to the organization every year, according to Maj. Rosemary Matson of the Salvation Army of Superior. Every time, Matson would call her up to say thanks and chat. The two got to know each other quite well.
“Nellie was quite a giver,” Matson said. “And her niece has followed through, doing it in Nellie’s name, and that’s wonderful.”
The Salvation Army lost a $9,000 FEMA grant this year, and funding from the United Way was cut 30 percent, the major said, so the golf tournament donation is much appreciated.
Bird’s memory lives on in the South Superior community she was so passionate about. The longtime business owner donated $25,000 to the Oliver Park Playground in her will. She also donated $25,000 for new playground equipment at Bryant Elementary School. Many of the bar patrons took part in erecting the new equipment last month, Cronin said.
And the bar is still Les Bird’s. A picture of Nellie, who passed away in November, hangs above the bar. On it rests a Green Bay Packers football signed with names of the 2011 Super Bowl champion team. It was a prize for the golf tournament, Cronin said, and the Duluth man who won it is not a Packers fan. So they were able to keep it at the bar in memory of Nellie, an enthusiastic Packers fan.
About five or six patrons still meet for coffee every day at the bar, as they did with Nellie. And the back shelf has begun to fill up with produce from area gardens as in previous years, items that are free for others to take.
“The first of the tomatoes was last weekend,” Cronin said. Her goal is to keep the South Superior bar in the family and true to Les and Nellie’s motto: “This bar is where ladies and gentlemen are served by ladies and gentlemen.”
“My goal, my aim, is to keep her memory alive,” Cronin said.