Golf outing honors Serving Irvin McIsaac and funds local scholarships
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Dozens of golfers, sponsors, and volunteers gathered together to honor an iconic Grayling man who was an advocate for youth and supported people of all ages.
The 13th annual Irv McIsaac Scholarship Golf Open was held at the Grayling Country Club on Saturday, August 17.
McIsaac served in the U.S. Army. He worked as a railroad worker for Penn Central for 38 years, and then worked at Mercy Hospital for approximately 20 years. He also served as a volunteer at the hospital.
McIsaac was one of the founding members of the Grayling Youth Booster Club when the organization was started in 1971.
At the time, McIsaac’s son, Dan, was slated to go to a basketball camp, but some of his peers could not afford to go.
That changed quickly.
“They went out and raised enough money to send the whole team to basketball camp,” said Tom Hunt, the chairman for the Irv McIsaac Scholarship Golf Open.
Throughout his time in Grayling, McIsaac started dozens of other organizations for youth such as little league and the Boy Scouts. He also served as chairman of the Grayling Country Club Men’s League for 27 years and was an ambassador for Grayling.
Hunt said he first met McIsaac as he was dining at Spike’s Keg ‘O’ Nails and bought $20 worth of 50/50 raffle tickets to support the Youth Booster Club.
“The people here are the most honest, giving straightforward people that I’ve ever met,” Hunt said.
Hunt said McIsaac introduced him to golf over three decades ago.
“Everybody knew Irv for his quick wit, and a good handshake and he had nicknames for everybody,” Hunt said. “He got along with everybody and everybody loved him.”
Hunt, who traveled the world and was into working and making money, said McIsaac changed his whole outlook on life.
“He had that special thing that was God given,” Hunt said. “He was fun to be around.”
McIsaac passed away on January 28, 2009. He was 88. One of last wishes was to start a scholarship program through the Grayling Country Club to support Grayling High School students in their future college endeavors.
Hunt and others quickly embraced the cause to honor the legacy of “Serving Irvin.”
“For me, this has been a labor of love,” Hunt said. “I just enjoy this so much.”
A total of 27 teams, comprising the 108 players, took part in the golf outing on Saturday.
Mike Branch, a retired principal and assistant athletic director for the Crawford AuSable School District, recalled selling 50/50 tickets for the Youth Booster Club.
Branch said McIsaac would frequent his office to ask what was needed for student athletes. At one point, uniforms for a girl’s team and a blocking sled for the football team were at top of the list.
“Sure enough, he came up with the money and said get it and order it. That’s the kind of guy he was,” Branch said. “He always supported athletics in our town and he was aways a funny guy to be around. He told jokes and made you feel good.”
Branch said McIsaac’s empathy for others carried over to his time at the hospital.
“He would get people laughing and making them feel good,” Branch said.
Brad Trenary said McIsaac would get the football team fired up before they hit the field.
“During football season, he would come and give inspirational speeches peppered with his jokes, which always got the gang going,” Trenary said.
Trenary said he was honored to play in the tournament.
“It’s fun and it supports a good cause and it helps some kids out with their monies for their college, so it’s a great thing,” Trenary said.
Mark Rutter said he met McIsaac at his graduation open house, where the jokester entertained the crowd.
“He was a marvelous man and one of the neatest characters you’re ever going to meet in life,” Rutter said.
Rutter maintained his friendship with McIsaac by being a member of the country club’s golf leagues.
“He made everybody enjoy their time and made it all worthwhile,” Rutter said.
Rutter was pleased to take part in the tournament.
“I love the fact that we’re giving scholarships out to kids and that was a cause Irv supported greatly, so I’m happy to chip in and keep it going,” he said.
Lance Davis said McIsaac served as a mentor to many people.
“Irv would tell jokes and he was always a good guy to be around and always fun and happy to talk to anybody,” he said.
Chet Wheeler recalled McIsaac as he was growing up and playing at the country club.
“He always had a nice after-round league speech with jokes,” Wheeler said. “Everybody here loved Irv. He is certainly well missed, so that’s why everybody comes out and supports his cause with his name on it because we all loved him a lot.”
Tim Krey enjoyed playing in the country club’s golf leagues with McIsaac.
“He was a good guy That’s why we play in this thing, because of him,” he said.
Each spring, a $1,000 scholarship is given to a male and female Grayling High School graduate. They are required to write an essay on why they need the funds for their college courses.
“Everyone that we’ve given a scholarship has either graduated or they are still in college,” Hunt said.
Stuart Goodyear’s daughter, Sarah, was selected to receive a scholarship in 2013. She graduated with a degree marketing and advertising from Michigan State University.
Goodyear said he secures his place in the tournament every year to help pay it forward.
“It was immense. It was great for the club to offer that and she was awarded it and helped very much,” Goodyear said. “That’s why this is one of tournaments I have to play in every year. It’s a given to me.”
Darren Johnston, who has worked at the country club for five summers, received a scholarship to attend Northern Michigan University in 2017.
“The club has been such a huge part of life since I’ve been a little guy,” he said. “I’m so grateful I was awarded the scholarship. It meant a lot.”
The scholarships are awarded for one year, but some recipients have come back and requested additional funding.
“In some cases, we’ve had experiences where they’ve needed some additional help and we’ve been able to do that privately,” Hunt said.
Hunt has cut back on his time organizing the hosting of the golf outing. Mike Fortino, the general manager for the Grayling Country Club, has had his staff take on those tasks.
“I think it’s a win-win for our community, our club, and for the Irv McIsaac and Tom Hunt families and my staff and myself are honored to do that,” Fortino said.
Fortino said he and his staff are awed at what McIsaac did for the club and youth in the community.
“It’s quite a feat,” he said. “I don’t think you will ever find another man that could do that or had a heart to do that.”