JDC volunteer Leach is just a Grunt

Originally Posted Online: July 09, 2013, 9:19 pm
Last Updated: July 10, 2013, 12:51 am
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
By John Marx, jmarx@qconline.com

It's a shade before 8 a.m. on a rainy, tournament Tuesday, three-plus hours into a Grunt Crew member's day. A two-person sit-down has turned into a nine-person trip down memory lane.

That's OK. It's the Grunt-Crew way.

As it gracefully strides through its fifth decade, one man -- save for one tournament -- has volunteered for every John Deere Classic. Through the ups, downs, name changes and weather of all varieties, Moline's Stan Leach has been there.

A labor of love, if you will.

"I was not at the first (Quad City Open) at Crow Valley, but I had friends talk me into going over and being a ball-spotter (marshal) for the second one,'' said the former Moline mayor, who is working his 40th John Deere Classic.

Leach proudly serves on the best operations crew on the PGA Tout, the world-famous Grunt Crew.

"I wanted to see Lee Trevino play and I did, but I got talked into volunteering and then it sort of carried over.''

There are few behind-the-scenes jobs Leach has not been involved with during his JDC tenure. While there are specific jobs for the 60-person Grunt Crew, they/Leach answer any call.

"I've had a chance to do just about everything,'' said Leach, who taught 30 years in the Moline school system and was the longest-tenured mayor in the history of Moline. "Foods, caddies, on the board, been vice chair of operations. Grunt Crew is my favorite. Why? They tell me you cannot fire a volunteer.''

One job, though, eluded Leach. One he knew he could not devote the time needed to do right.

"Former tournament chairman Tom Robinson asked me to be chairman,'' Leach said. "It's hard to do one job right and darn-near impossible to do two jobs and do them well. I loved teaching and loved being mayor. I didn't feel it would be fair to all three if I said yes. That's stayed with me.''

Leach, and the large gathering assembled to rib him during this interview, laugh when recalling how far things have come for the Grunts.

"We started at Oakwood Country Club with a mobile home with holes in the floor,'' Leach said. "We had another one full of wasps. In the old days, we couldn't get on Oakwood until 4 p.m. the Sunday of tournament week out of respect to the membership.

"I get that, but we had a lot of 24-hour shifts back then. Today, we are here six weeks before and six weeks after the tournament.''

And long, long after that.

"I do this because it's a family setting and we give back to our community,'' Leach said. "It's an honor to be a Grunt and wear the shirt, but you just don't get the shirt, you work like everyone else involved. I'm just one guy of the 1,200 who make this tournament go.

"The volunteers allow the John Deere Classic to give millions back each year to a great community. It just so happened that I was the last one standing when they announced number of years at the banquet recently. I hope that's good, it sure was embarrassing.''

It's good. Whether it's five days or 40 years, it's all good.

Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or jmarx@qconline.com.


Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)