Arnie Burdick a great man who did it his way

info@islandpacket.comJuly 18, 2012 

  • Email David Lauderdale at dlauderdale@islandpacket.com.

Thanks to Bill Doescher of Scarsdale, N.Y., for sharing an essay on Arnie Burdick, who retired to Hilton Head Island.

Bill is the retired senior vice president and chief communications officer for Dun & Bradstreet and the president and chief executive officer of the Doescher Group, a marketing and communications consulting firm in Scarsdale.

"Remembering Arnie Burdick"

By Bill Doescher

I first became acquainted with the likable Arnie Burdick, who passed away June 5 at the age of 92, in 1958 in the college press boxes at football games at Colgate and Syracuse.

Our friendship lasted 54 years, and during phone calls in the later years, you would think we just talked to each other the day before.

Arnie was always accommodating, a good listener, friendly and totally professional, no matter whether deadlines at the Syracuse Herald Journal were on the horizon or a Hale Irwin, Fuzzy Zoeller or Davis Love III was walking into the press tent at the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing.

Arnie was Arnie, and there was nobody quite like him. There wasn't anybody who didn't like him and that included many hundreds of people at Syracuse University, where he was sports information director (1947-1956) or the Syracuse Herald Journal, where he was sports editor and columnist (1956-1984), generating hundreds of written pieces each year, or the Heritage press room, which he managed for the past 27 years, becoming friends with the national and local media as well as the PGA Tour players.

My first real recollection of Arnie's sports column prose was in May 1959 when I am proud to say he quoted some of my writing.

He started off, "Bill Doescher, able retiring sports editor of the Colgate 'Maroon,' has just written his swan song. And taking a 'final look' at the Colgate athletic picture, he asks the Raider authorities to reappraise the school's sports program." He continued with more of my column, and it was a nice send-off for me going into the real world.

Upon graduation from Colgate, Arnie and I talked about my joining his sports writing staff, but for several reasons I chose The Evening Press in Binghamton, N.Y.

Nevertheless, we stayed in contact over the years until I received a phone call from him asking me if I knew anybody on Hilton Head, where he was going to live in retirement with wife Mimi and play tennis. He said, "I need something to do down there. Know anybody who can help? Got any ideas?"

Having been involved with the Heritage Golf Classic when I was vice president for public relations and advertising for Drexel Heritage Furnishings, one of the three major sponsors in the 1970s with Delta Airlines and Sea Pines Plantation, I immediately knew who I would call for a win-win for Arnie and the Heritage.

I called Mike Stevens, then executive director of the Heritage and now president of the Champions Tour, and said, "Have a I got a deal for you -- he's Arnie Burdick, retiring sports editor of the Syracuse Herald Journal who's moving to Hilton Head and is looking for something to do. He can manage the tournament press room with ease and professionalism." Stevens jumped at the idea, and Arnie's third career lasted 27 years.

As they say, the rest is history, and Arnie Burdick became a legend in Hilton Head after having been one in Syracuse.

May he rest in peace. Arnie was a nice man, had a great life, and as Frank Sinatra says, "did it his way."

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