Bill and Nancy Lord
Nancy and I first met the Lippers in 1988 when we moved from Fort Collins, CO to Des Moines, IA. I had taken a position with Iowa State University in Ames and we decided to live in the capital city to give Nancy more opportunity for a job in the travel business. By coincidence, George did most of his travel planning through the agency where Nancy worked and we were soon part of the Lippers' circle of friends, meeting on Fridays at the Savery for drinks and conversation, with Irene Miles playing her unique style of light jazz piano in the background. There were dinners either at one of the many Italian restaurants in Des Moines, or at one of our homes and of course there were lots of golf outings. George loved his golf and we would often spend the weekend at some out-of-the-way Iowa town playing the local course. George always said that every Iowa town had at least a nine-holer and until he left for Vegas, he was hell bent on proving it.
A couple of my fondest memories relate to a 1996 golf trip we took to celebrate Jan's birthday in Ireland. The weather in May was not the best but George and I decided that no matter what the forecast, we would play at least eighteen every day. We played several courses near Dublin and then drove across Ireland to the west coast. Half way there we stopped for lunch at the Moate Golf Club and George and I decided to forgo the lunch and play the course instead. By the time that we reached the ninth green it began to rain and we decided to make a run for the club house. As with many European golf courses, the ninth green is the farthest point from the clubhouse so we opted to take a short cut across a farmer's field which lay between us and lunch. As we approached our goal a rather vicious sheepdog appeared out of nowhere and made a beeline for us. Discretion overcame valor and I threw my golf clubs and myself over the stone wall. I think it was the only time I beat George at anything and he was left waving a five iron at the dog while he inched his way along the wall to the gate. George never forgave me for that incident. Friendship does have its limits.
After a couple of days at Lahinch on the west coast we drove down to Ballybunion – a course George and I had dreamed of playing. The wind was quite strong the day we played the Old Course and we continually found the rough, which on a links course like Ballybunion is really rough. On the first par three the wind was howling and I decided that the only way to reach the green was with my three wood. Much to my surprise, miracle of miracles, I hit it squarely into the wind and landed on the green within birdy distance of the hole. Goerge, not to be outdone, eschewed the wood and opted for his trusty five iron which had survived the dog incident and, miracle of miracles, landed the ball on the green inside mine. As we walked to the green the foursome in front of us, who unbeknown to us, had watched our play, stood to one side and politely asked if we would like to play through. They obviously thought we were a couple of hot shot golfers. We quickly disabused them of that notion, sent them on their way, missed our birdies and made two pars. The rest of the round is a blur of deep bunkers, knee high grass, and beautiful views along the coast. We sank more Irish whiskey hot toddies at the 19th that day than we sank pars and bogeys.
George was intensely competitive and professional in everything he did, be it business, golf, racket ball or even scrabble. We will miss his smile, his quirky sense of humor and above all his true friendship. Whenever “The Open” is played on a links course I always think of George and in the past would call to reminisce about our Irish adventures. This year I didn't get to call.