As the players finish their round of golf at the Bob MacKay Memorial Golf Tournament, a guest bagpiper performs solos on the bagpipes. It is a tradition of the tournament everyone looks forward to hearing.
Robert Albert MacKay, was born in Mimico, Ontario, Canada on June 14, 1937. His father, John Thomson MacKay, was born in Dundee, Scotland and died in 1976. His mother, Sylvia Woodbine MacKay, died in March, 2000. Bob and his family moved to Louisville, KY where he attended Eastern High School. His father founded Western Roto Engravers, Inc. in Oakland, California in 1955 and Bob attended the College of the Pacific in Stockton, California and was a member of the golf team. In 1971, upon his father's retirement, he became president of Western Roto Engravers, Inc., later called WRE/Colortech.
Bob had five sons - Robert Thomson MacKay and his wife, Susan and their two sons, Kevin and Stephen, live in Cumming, GA. William Brent MacKay and his wife, Theresa, live in Oak Ridge, NC with their son, Ryan. Gregory Andrew MacKay lives in Cumming, GA with his wife Lauri, and two daughters, Jenna and Natalie. Todd Ryan MacKay, his wife Cassidy and their two children, Lillian (Lilly) Ryan and Caleb Robert, live in Greensboro. John Avery MacKay, died May, 1994 at age 30.
Bob was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia in April of 1990. He was preparing to play in the ProAm of the Greater Greensboro Open with his dear friend, Blaine McCallister, PGA Tour Pro, when he became ill. Blaine has been staying at our home during the GGO since 1985.
During Bob's three and half year battle with leukemia he never gave up the fight. He underwent an autologous bone marrow transplant in October of 1991. The doctors and nurses were amazed as he brought his putting green into the bone marrow unit. He was determined not to lose his touch. Doctors were challenged to a putting contest each time they entered his room. Bob usually won!
Bob spent 2 months in Houston taking an experimental drug which was being given at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Blaine McCallister gave us the keys to his home and all his friends gave us the royal tour of the Houston area. We made some life long friends.
Bob received blood transfusions almost 3 times a week after his transplant until his death. He became a spokesperson for the American Red Cross and gave talks at several local churches during blood drives. He helped with the Bone Marrow Wanted Program, started at Page High School in Greensboro, by organizing the GGO Diet Coke Chip On Contest and by providing prepress work for posters promoting people to become bone marrow donors.
Bob played golf in September, 1993 at the Cardinal Country Club Member Guest, with his friend Charles Bell, and they were the champions of the Sunningdale Flight. Bob had relapsed two weeks earlier; he never mentioned this to the other golfers. He was admitted back into the hospital in October and died December 23, 1993.
Throughout his illness, Bob was always looking after others, concerned about the feelings and welfare of those around him, both those he loved and those he didn't even know. One morning, sitting in the waiting room at the cancer clinic, Bob and I talked about having a golf tournament to benefit the bone marrow program.
Bob and I became very close friends with his hematologist/oncologist, David Hurd, M.D. Director of Bone Marrow Transplantation at Bowman Gray School of Medicine. We all played golf together! After Bob's death, I spoke with David and said, "Let's do the tournament!"
The first tournament was held May 23, 1994 at Forest Oaks Country Club. Players came from across the United States and Canada. Every physician who saw Bob during his illness participated. We had 18 corporate sponsors and 128 golfers. The PGA Tour, with special thanks to Blaine McCallister, donated our grand prize (now our Grand Raffle Prize) which is a round of golf for four at the TPC at Sawgrass with play on the Stadium Course and the Valley Course. The Marriott at Sawgrass Resort donated an overnight stay for four. This has continued to be our Grand Prize for the past 15 years!
To date, we have gifted over $1 million to benefit blood and marrow transplant, leukemia and hematology cancer research and education at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. The medical school has established an endowed fund to be known as the Bob MacKay Memorial Fund. One of our yearly auction items is the "Signatures of the PGA Tour Pros", a framed print of the Bob MacKay Memorial Logo and Story.
Bob MacKay died on the 23rd of December, 1993. Many will remember his infectious good humor and unfailing support for all who played golf. On the course, every shot was the beginning of the rest of the round. The past did not carry over, the future could be influenced but not controlled. So too with his illness, yesterday held no interest, tomorrow was yet to be decided. Life was to be lived today. As part of his treatment, he underwent a bone marrow transplant. During that experience he became a champion of the efforts for the Bone Marrow Transplant Program at Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University. He devised the idea of an annual golf tournament with proceeds benefiting the Bone Marrow Transplant Research Program. Unfortunately, he died before his vision could be realized. In his memory and in respect of his wishes, a benefit tournament has been organized. The inaugural event took place in May, 1994 and all proceeds were donated to the Bone Marrow Transplant Research Program. This annual event will honor the memory of a remarkable man. The signatures of the golf pros represent their commitment to the efforts of the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University. - Written by John Owen, MD.