The role George and Barbara Pruitt played in the lives of Columbus golfer Jonathan Parker and several of his friends has not been forgotten since the Pruitts died, both after battling cancer. On Sept. 19, Parker, his sister Cadie and four friends will honor the Pruitts in a special way.
Parker and the five others will participate in Arnie’s March Atlanta at the East Lake Golf Club. The Arnold Palmer Foundation’s event not only allows a chance to remember those who have succumbed to cancer but also raise funds for the Aflac Cancer Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Parker said the American Junior Golf Association Tour sent out an email asking if anyone was interested in participating, to which he quickly said yes. He and his sister will be joined by Ally and Ashley Coppedge as well as Raley and Reese Powell, all of whom were nearby neighbors of the Pruitts.
“It means a lot because they meant a lot to me,” Ally said. “Being able to honor them really helps. I feel like I owe it to them.”
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Ally remembers the Pruitts as an extra set of grandparents to many of the neighborhood kids. Barbara taught her how to knit, while George always kept tabs on if the kids had enough Coca-Colas, Yoo-hoos and lollipops. The couple regularly attended the kids’ sporting events or recitals, and the children often spent their free time at the couple’s home.
Ally and Ashley’s springer spaniel, Aubie, often wandered to the Pruitts’ house and took a liking to George and his pool. Around the time of Barbara’s death in July 2013, George -- a Georgia fan -- took Aubie in, renamed her Annie since he couldn’t bare to have a pet named after a rival’s mascot, and cared for the dog.
“They were not just good neighbors. They were wonderful people,” said Brad Coppedge, Ally and Ashley’s father. “Barbara was exceptionally creative. She would help the girls with Halloween costumes or any sort of creative project. George loved to cook. (The kids) would eat dinner with them fairly regularly.”
George, who died in April 2017, was always interested in Parker’s golf game, and his own background was likely a reason for that. Among George’s family in the sport was Bob Goalby, who won the Masters Tournament in 1968. George’s sister Jan married golfer Jay Haas, who won nine times on the PGA Tour. Haas’ son Bill is currently on the PGA Tour and won the 2011 FedEx Cup.
“Whenever I saw Mr. Pruitt, he always had a smile on his face,” said Parker, who often mowed George’s lawn. “He was a really encouraging guy. He always kept up with my golf schedule and how I did. He was a great guy all around.”
As of Thursday, their group has raised over $1,000. Parker said he knew how much the Pruitts meant to the others, which made including them a no-brainer.
Still, getting the opportunity to honor two people who meant so much can’t be undervalued, at least for Raley Powell.
“I’m just thankful that Jonathan asked us,” Powell said. “It’s really, really special to me. It makes my heart happy because George and Barbara were so close to us.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports