Captain, United States Marine Corps
Philanthropist & Businessman
of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA):
12 May 2005
A 'Living Legend' Passes
John Jachym, 87, of Charlottesville, Virginia, noted philanthropist, retired business leader and an Honorary Member of The PGA of America, died May 10 in Charlottesville.
Also residing in Village of Golf, Florida, and Chautauqua, New York, Jachym's active life spanned the world of business, sports and politics. Throughout his life, particularly in his later years, Jachym was an avid philanthropist, assisting many in their pursuit of business careers.
He became a golf enthusiast at age 43 and used his business acumen to assist The PGA for more than 37 years. Over that time, he became PGA advisory committee chairman and committee member, and served as an independent director of The PGA from 1990 to 1992.
During his association with the game, he served as an official American observer at many of the 18 Ryder Cups he attended and played rounds with many of the sport's greats including his favorite golfer, Arnold Palmer.
In appreciation for his service, The PGA in 1994 elected him as an Honorary Member. Others in that distinguished group include former U.S. Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, golfing legend Gary Player, entertainer Bob Hope, golf trick-shot artist Dennis Walters and former PGA legal counsel Lloyd Lambert.
A special advisor to The PGA at the time of his death, Jachym was an honorary member of three PGA sections: Southern California, Illinois and Western New York.
Jachym was founder and trustee of the National PGA of Junior Golf and the former chairman of the board of the National Golf Foundation.
He and his wife, Audrey, created the Amelia G. Jachym Scholarship for Pine Valley High School in South Dayton, New York.
His personal philosophy was borrowed from an unknown Canadian ice hockey announcer: "Fame is a vapor, popularity is an accident, and money takes wings * the only thing that endures is character."
After moving to South Dayton (Ohio) in 1930 and graduating from South Dayton High School in 1935, Jachym earned a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri in 1940. He worked as a reporter for the Jefferson City (Mo.) Observer and the Dunkirk (N.Y.) Observer, and concurrently scouted for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball organization.
His love of journalism and sport created friendships with some of the great sportswriters of our time, including Grantland Rice, Shirley Povich and Red Smith, and introduced him to lifelong relationships with former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, Major League Baseball's greatest innovator, Branch Rickey, and legendary football coaches Vince Lombardi and Paul Brown.
In 1941, Jachym joined the U.S. Marines Corps as a member of the First Marine Division during World War II. He earned a field rank of captain and fought in New Guinea, New Britain and Guadalcanal, where in 1942 he led the first successful offensive against Japan, a major turning point in the Pacific theater. He was presented the Silver Star medal for his efforts.
Upon returning to Western New York after the conflict, be became president of Jamestown Safety Guard and Chatauqua Enterprises in Jamestown, N.Y., eventually becoming owner of the Jamestown Falcons professional baseball team of the PONY League. He sold the franchise to the Detroit Tigers and became assistant farm director for the Tigers organization.
In 1949, at age 30, Jachym purchased 40 percent of the Washington Senators baseball team, becoming the organization's largest shareholder. He sold these shares to Gabe Murphy in 1950.
At a suggestion of a friend, Jachym entered the business world, taking up investment banking in 1953 and became a pioneer in mergers and acquisitions. He became a "living legend" in the Midwest world of industry by directing the largest business transaction at that time in the history of Chicago. The deal became a case study at both the Harvard Business School and the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business Administration.
He was celebrated for being a man of his word. Throughout his business career, he was proud of the fact that he never required use of written documents. His business was always done with a handshake.
He was head of corporate finance for Blunt, Ellis and Company of Chicago and later became vice president of A.G. Becker and Company and senior partner at John J. Jachym and Company. In 1974, he moved to San Diego to become chairman of the board and CEO for Kratos, Inc., an international high-technology and instrumentation company until his retirement in 1980.
But the captain of industry wasn't through. Jachym's ability to grasp knowledge quickly impressed the Reagan-Bush presidential campaign in 1980 as he was named the campaign's chairman of business and industry. He later declined an appointment to the White House staff as assistant Secretary of Commerce, choosing to retire from the political field.
Jachym's strong background in baseball opened many doors for him in the business world as he often crossed over between finance and sport. He was involved as an advisor or principal in the sale of the Washington Redskins, Washington Senators, Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees, Milwaukee Braves, Chicago (football) Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore Colts, Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Bulls.
He served on numerous national corporation boards during his career as well. He maintained ties to Western New York business and spent summers at the Chautauqua Institution beginning in 1982.
Jachym also was a familiar face to many celebrities from the world of entertainment, his favorites being comedian Bob Hope and renouned band leader Les Brown.
He will always be remembered for never forgetting anyone who helped him in life.
He is survived by his wife, Audrey Gleichman Jachym, whom he married September 30, 1944; a son, James G. Jachym of Naples, Florida; two daughters, Jacqueline Fitzpatrick of Rancho Santa Fe, California, and Janet Calhoun of Dunwoody, Georgia. Also, four grandsons: Jeremy Jachym of Sebastopol, California, Bradley Fitzpatrick of San Francisco; and Jason Seabolt and Joshua Seabolt, both of Atlanta; and one granddaughter, Aimee Fitzpatrick of New York City.
Internment services will be conducted at the Arlington National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting
donations be made to The Amelia G. Jachym Scholarship Fund, c/o Charles
Hall, P.O. Box 3236, Jamestown, NY 14701; the Charlottesville-Albemarle
Rescue Squad, 828 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, VA 22902 or Hospice of
the Piedmont, 501 Park Street, Charlottesville, VA 22903.
The first time I met John Jachym and began to learn of all his lifelong deeds, I started looking around the room for Ashton Kutcher.
I thought I had been “punk’d.”
I had met a lot of amazing people in my life, but no one in the world could have accomplished as much and known as many people as John Jachym. Surely, I thought, he had to be pulling my leg.
As time wore on and I got to know this man, I realized it was all true and very legitimate.
His list of friends covered the spectrum of American culture: Arnold Palmer, Vince Lombardi, Jackie Robinson, Paul Brown, Branch Rickey, Pete Rozelle, Red Smith, Grantland Rice, Shirley Povich, Bob Hope, Les Brown, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld. We could go on, but there’s not enough newsprint in this building to list them all.
His accomplishments were even more amazing. Consider a few:
He once owned 40 percent of the Washington Senators.
With check in hand on the closing date, he was that close to buying the Washington Redskins from the Marshall estate and had convinced Lombardi to become coach and general manager for a share of the club.
He was heavily involved in the sale of the Redskins, Senators, Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees, Milwaukee Braves, Chicago (football) Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore Colts, Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Bulls.
He once had a chance to buy the San Francisco 49ers for a song, but declined.
He was chairman of business and industry for the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1980. He later turned down an appointment to the White House staff as assistant Secretary of Commerce.
He was a “living legend” in the world of industry, having directed the largest business transaction at the time in the history of Chicago.
He was founder and trustee of the National PGA of Junior Golf and former chairman of the board of the National Golf Foundation.
He shot his age in golf every year from the late ‘60s to 86.
He was an official American observer at numerous Ryder Cups.
He was one of only six men ever awarded the honor of lifetime membership in the PGA of America. Gary Player, Bob Hope and Gerald Ford were some of the others.
In 1942, he led the first successful offensive against Japan, a major turning point in the Pacific theater and was awarded the Silver Star.
Too long to look at
Again, if we listed them all, it would take up today’s entire sports section.
He was sort of Forrest Gump, but with a plan.
Whereas Gump’s, the loveable literature and movie character, success was more a matter of just dumb luck, John Jachym’s success derived from his brilliance and a network of friends and acquaintances that were a Who’s Who in America.
We lost John Jachym (pronounced YOCK-em) on Tuesday morning at age 87. He fought the good fight against cancer and though he knew his dreadful fate, accepted it and never complained.
He was the perfect soldier up until the bitter end.
We became friends over the years, even though more than a generation separated us. I became much more impressed with who John really was than all that he had conquered.
He never forgot anyone who ever helped him, even a neighbor who once bought him a ball glove when the young boy couldn’t afford one when he grew up on a farm in upstate New York. How ironic that he ended up owning 40 percent of a Major League team.
One of his favorite stories was about him sitting outside of Branch Rickey’s office the day that Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to a contract, breaking the color barrier in baseball. Rickey was practically a surrogate father to Jachym and up until the end, Jachym spoke reverently of him, most always referring to him as Mr. Rickey.
His acts of kindness and generosity are staggering. He spent much of the latter years of his life just trying to help people and never expected anything in return.
One terrific story involved Jachym asking a favor of former Dodgers’ GM Buzzie Bavasi back in the 60s. Jachym called Bavasi and asked him to entertain some friends of his at a Dodgers game a few days hence.
Bavasi said he would do anything for Jachym as long as he didn’t have to deal with any Hollywood types. Well, Jachym explained, he wanted Bavasi to entertain Academy Award winning screenwriter Maurice Richland (author of the Pink Panther) and some friends at the game.
Bavasi begged to be let off the hook, but Jachym was unrelenting. It was important to Jachym that Richland, a classmate at Missouri, to get the royal treatment. Bavasi finally agreed, but left it saying, “I’ll do it, but John, after three innings I’m outta there.”
The appointed day arrived and Richland showed up at Dodgers Stadium to meet Bavasi. Richland brought along three friends: Cary Grant, Doris Day and Rock Hudson, three of the biggest names in show business in that era.
Bavasi called Jachym that night and said, “John, this was the greatest day of my life.”
John Jachym was all about character. Upon my last visit to see him, the thing I will remember most is him talking about how character always matters.
In fact, his philosophy on life went like this: “Fame is vapor, popularity is an accident, and money takes wings ... the only thing that endures is character.”
When John came to me more than a year ago and asked me to write his obituary, I was somewhat surprised. I told him it was the only thing I had ever written that I hoped never made print.
It is on today’s obituary page. I wish it wasn’t.
John, we’re going to miss you.