The love of a sport can be powerful; Marge Page’s love of golf is proof.
By combining her passion for golf with her passion for children, Page touched the lives of more than an estimated 26,000 kids by co-founding the Wichita Junior Golf Foundation in 1974.
Page died Wednesday at the age of 90.
“What she liked about (golf) for kids wasn’t the athletics of golf, it was the discipline of golf,” daughter Susan Page said. “In golf, you have to really focus at the task at hand, focus on the rules, you had to be courteous. Those were things that she thought were essential life skills.”
Page was a well-known golfer after becoming a three-time winner of the city nine-hole tournament, and a champion at Crestview Country Club for years.
Susan Page said her mother’s idea originated in a tournament at Crestview, when she noticed a rule requiring parents to belong to the country club in order for their children to play golf there.
“It teaches juniors how to play golf, but the kids learn how to manage their time, and they learn how to be honest within the game,” said Dick Orr, a retired club professional who was associated with the program for nearly 30 years. “The city will miss her, and golf definitely will miss her, too.”
The program allows children 10 to 18 to affordably learn and play golf at six courses during the summer. Page, a Kansas Golf Hall of Fame member, collected donated golf bags, clubs and balls to supply to the juniors each summer if needed.
“This all started back when my children were 10 years old and they were then able to play in the junior golf program,” said Karen Richards, member of the Wichita Golf Foundation’s board of trustees. “They both now play golf in their adult life. Golf is a game that can be played by yourself, and it can be played your whole life.”
Page’s interest in children spread beyond golf. In 2007, her daughter made a donation to a high school within the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility in Marge’s name as a Christmas gift. Marge Page’s attention turned to the needs of those children, and she continued to support the school.
“Working with her was wonderful because she was so devoted to the junior golf program,” Richards said. “As you got to know Marge better, you realized she had so many interests other than golf and she wasn’t one to talk about them.”
The West Side High School in the Larned facility named its library after Page.
“She grew up on a farm, she loved music, she loved golf, and she loved helping kids. She thought kids deserved a chance and then a second chance after they made a mistake,” Susan Page said. “I think if you were interviewing her, she would describe herself as a very lucky woman.”
Besides Susan Page, she is survived by her son, Al, of Wichita; another daughter, Jill Brooks, of Sunnyvale, Calif.; a brother, Ward Henry, of Hiawatha; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, at 1 p.m. at Downing & Lahey Mortuary East. A memorial has been established with the Wichita Junior Golf Foundation; c/o Karen Richards, 7529 E. 10th Circle, Wichita, 67206.