Rick Heppler was a big part of the Payson community since buying Jakes Corner Bar in 2005.
“He had a big heart,” said his sister, Robin Heppler.
He held a golf tournament each of the last eight years at Payson Golf Course.
The ninth tournament was scheduled for last Saturday.
Tragically, Heppler died in a motorcycle accident in May.
But those who loved him made sure the tournament he started lived on.
And the inaugural Rick Heppler Memorial Golf Tournament was a big success on Saturday with a maximum 26 foursomes participating.
“He had to turn people away just about every year because they all loved it,” said Kate Adams, the public relations manager for the Payson Rotary Foundation. “There is a maximum number of people we can take and we are at the maximum again this year.”
Payson Rotary became involved because his family wanted to make sure the tournament continued in his honor to support local people and groups in need.
Rick Heppler had planned to turn the tournament into a fund-raising event, according to Deborah Daniels of the Payson Rotary Foundation.
“The proceeds will go to the Payson Rotary Foundation,” Daniels said. “We spend all of our money locally. We support the Time Out Shelter and the high school kids and scholarships and the dictionary project and many things that Rick supported. He was very supportive of our community.
“I was a really close friend with Rick. And this year was going to be the first year of the fund-raising part of this golf tournament. He was going to have us participate with him. That’s why we picked it up and ran with it.”
Daniels contacted Robin Heppler to try and make sure her friend’s plan to make the tournament a fund-raiser came to fruition.
“We really wanted to honor his wishes and continue on with the tournament,” Robin said. “Living in Colorado, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the Payson Rotary. Having this as a joint effort between the family, Ping and the Payson Rotary has just been fabulous. And I think we have a great tournament. We got more people involved this year in getting hole sponsorships. So it really has been a community event.
“And Ping has been so gracious in giving our gifts to us. Many people from the Ping family, which is what it is, down in Phoenix, have come up to play in the tournament to honor Rick.”
Heppler was the first employee for Ping Golf. He worked for Ping for 45 years. He lived in Glendale during the week, but had a house in Payson he stayed at while running Jakes Corner Bar on weekends.
Several Ping employees were on hand Saturday, along with Ping Chairman and CEO John Solheim and his wife, Sonny.
Proceeds from the event will go to the Payson Rotary Foundation.
“Rick never turned anybody down,” Robin said. “If they needed a gift certificate, if they needed something for any charity, he was always there.
“So we just wanted to honor that tradition and put the money in the foundation — the Rick Heppler Memorial Foundation, so that we can help maybe the golf team, maybe the volunteer fire department, you know, any of the charities that need help around here in Rick’s name.
“Anyone who needs the money can come to the Rotary Foundation and ask for a grant. So that’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to help the Payson community.”
His sister is happy that the tournament he began lives on in his memory.
“It’s a very special tournament,” Robin said. “It was Rick’s way of thanking the people around Jakes Corner and the people at Ping — kind of getting a community golf tournament together and just having all of his friends play golf together.”
Team Kelley, consisting of Lincoln Garage Doors owners Kevin and Kim Kelley and their sons Jeff Kelley and Brent Kelley, won the best ball scramble with a score of 53.
Brent Kelley won the longest drive contest on No. 3. Kim Kelley was closest to the pin on No. 17.
One of four teams representing Ping finished second with 54. But that team of Adam Sevensky, Matt Condro, Chris Maynas and Chris Herbach declined to accept the prizes so an area team could enjoy them. And Team Leiting, representing Gisela and consisting of Sparky Leiting, Lynn Leiting, Scooter Wilson and Brian Chapman took that prize with a score of 56. They beat the Herbert Team of Dave Herbert, Terry Lindsay, John Om and Nate Blonco on the back nine tie-breaker.
Lindsay was closest to the pin on No. 8.
Nobody claimed the $10,000 prize for a hole-in-one on No. 2.