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O'Neill honored by HMC

HOLYOKE Golf is a game that requires both patience and persistence. So it's fitting that Holyoke Medical Center's 19th Annual Golf Fore Health tournament on August 20 is being held in memory of Jack O'Neill, who displayed both those qualities-and many more-in his tireless efforts for his community.

O'Neill, who passed away from cancer in December, had served as co-Master of Ceremonies at the post-tournament festivities since its inception in 1988. His media colleague, News40 anchorman Dave Madsen, shared those duties with O'Neill for the past few years. Madsen has worked behind the scenes on the event since its inception and credits O'Neill for getting him involved.

"Jack asked me to do it and I said 'Sure, I'll use any excuse to play golf," Madsen joked. "But seriously, you couldn't say 'no' to Jack because he never said 'no' to anyone. He gave so much to the community. I don't know how he fit it all in."

That description of O'Neill's perseverance when it came to helping people was echoed by Barbara Griffin, event planner at the Log Cabin where the post-tournament party takes place. Griffin and her husband were good friends of O'Neill for more than three decades.

"Whenever he was asked to do something he just said "Tell me when and where to be,' and he'd just move forward with it," Griffin said. "He never told people half the things he was doing. He just did them. He was a jewel in the community."

Griffin and Madsen also both noted that despite being a well-known media personality, he didn't exhibit any ego.

"Jack had the same attitude as I do. He took his work seriously but he didn't take himself seriously," Madsen said. "He was a good friend to me and he was like that with everybody. He was very approachable."

Griffin agreed.

"He had a velvet voice and a heart of gold," she said. "He always focused on people's abilities and brought out the best in them."

One way to honor O'Neill's contributions to society would be to participate in the Golf Fore Health event, which O'Neill loved, according to Madsen.

Deborah A. Buckley of the Goss & McLain Insurance Agency chairs the golf event committee and said that the money raised has gone to crucial needs at the hospital over the years. This year's proceeds will go towards patient equipment.

"When you look at things that the event has raised money for, they are things that touch everyone," she said. "We all like to believe that we'll never need any of those things, but it's nice to know they are there when we and our families do need them."

This year's tournament will be held at both the Orchards Golf Club and the Ranch Golf Club. For information on sponsorships or registration, please contact the Development Office at (413) 534-2579 or e-mail \ul\cf1

"Even if you don't play golf just come for dinner," Madsen said. "The event raises money that helps in many ways and a lot of programs might go by the wayside without the money from the event. It's a way of investing in the community and Holyoke Medical Center is such a great investment."