October 24 - 30, 2011

October 24 - 30, 2011
John Hamilton Gillespie Celebration Week

The week-long party
celebrating the Father of Sarasota…and golf was a big success! From O'Leary's Kick-off Party, Jeff LaHurd's New Book, Jacobites Bagpipers, Trolley Tours, Kiwanis Golf Tournament, and Hartman Gallery Photography Exhibition, to the Palm Avenue Street Party, The Macallan VIP Scotch Tasting, Lunch in Rosemary Cemetery, and Walking Tour of the Gillespie Park Neighborhood - every special event was a wonderful way to honor Sarasota's history.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gillespie's Joie de Vivre

In 2008, invaluable items giving more insight into the life of Colonel John Hamilton Gillespie, began to arrive in Sarasota. They were donated to the Sarasota County History Center by Don Fennimore of Delaware, and included early Sarasota photos, framed prints, Gillespie's golf clubs and bag, walking sticks, swords, silverware, and other accessories. 

According to Hope Black, who was charged with sorting through the collection [she], "was like a kid on Christmas eve" with all the fascinating pieces of history to catalog and inventory. 

J.H. Gillespie in the mosquito-infested wilderness of Sarasota
"A Short Overview of J.H. Gillespie"
by Hope Black

On September 7, 1923, his driver in hand, his stance poised in preparation for a long drive down the fairway, John Hamilton Gillespie suffered a fatal cerebral hemorrhage. Had he willed the circumstances of his death, surely he would have chosen this end. Given the many titles and accolades he earned in his seventy-one years of living, none pleased him more than golfer. He loved the game and sought to share his reverence and pleasure with everyone he met. There is a phrase attributed to Gillespie that when a farmer in Sarasota told him he didn't play golf, he responded, "Man, y'er missing half y'er life!"

Gillespie came to Sarasota in 1886 from Scotland, as a representative of his father's company, the Florida Mortgage and Investment Company, Ltd. He arrived as a manager and as an attorney. He would ultimately serve as mayor for six one-year terms and as town councilman for one. In addition, he was among the earliest promoters and developers of what was then a sparsely populated, mosquito-infested wilderness. He was a paragon of leadership, a visionary, a landowner, a designer, a builder, a golf course architect, and a passionate golfer. When he came to America, as part of his baggage he carried his golf clubs.  

Golf was an intrinsic part of [Gillespie's] being, 
his avocation, his recreation and his joie de vivre.

In an oft quoted anecdote, it is related that "when Gillespie set foot on shore in Sarasota, the first thing he did was to follow a path leading to a dried up, shallow pond, where he stooped, heaping up a little pile of sand, and remarked, ‘Two holes for practice - and it can be extended later.'" And so it was... 
—Reprinted from Sarasota History Alive! This Week Newsletter - April 28, 2008

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