Rid­dell le­gacy in­cludes Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic

Me­mo­rial ser­vice Mon­day to cel­e­brate life of for­mer Flames co-owner

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - WES GILBERT­SON wgilbert­[email protected]­media.com Twit­ter.com/WesGil­bert­son

Friends will tell you that Clay Rid­dell sel­dom missed a fair­way.

And never missed an op­por­tu­nity to make a pos­i­tive im­pact in his com­mu­nity.

Rid­dell, also part-owner of the NHL’s Flames, passed away last week­end at 81. A le­gend in the oil and gas in­dus­try, a fam­ily man and a gen­er­ous phi­lan­thropist, he will re­mem­bered for a lengthy list of achieve­ments that in­cluded his role as founder and tour­na­ment chair­man for Cal­gary’s an­nual stop on the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons sched­ule — the oh-so-suc­cess­ful Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic at his home club of Canyon Mead­ows.

“Clay al­ways had a vi­sion of try­ing to give back to the com­mu­nity, and each year he kept try­ing to raise the bar,” said PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons pres­i­dent Greg McLaugh­lin, who will at­tend Mon­day’s me­mo­rial cel­e­bra­tion for Rid­dell. “The char­i­ta­ble num­bers this tour­na­ment has reached in a short pe­riod of time are un­par­al­leled on the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons and very well may be un­par­al­leled on the PGA Tour. It re­ally is re­mark­able.

“And he was the calm­ing force. I think ev­ery­one looked to Clay and for him, it was all about the char­ity. More than any­thing, it was just about help­ing count­less num­ber of kids.”

Cer­tainly, he achieved that. Dat­ing back to the in­au­gu­ral event in 2013, the pa­tron group and tour­na­ment staff for the Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic have made an an­nual habit of best­ing their own record for the largest dona­tion in the his­tory of the se­nior tour, dol­ing out $22.1 mil­lion to youth­based char­i­ties over the first five years.

That to­tal will be north of $30 mil­lion once the num­bers from the lat­est in­stal­ment are fi­nal­ized.

To date, more than 500,000 kids have ben­e­fited from the funds raised through Cal­gary’s an­nual birdie-fest.

“I have al­ways liked the word that Clay was a pi­o­neer,” said tour­na­ment vice-chair­man Al­lan Markin. “And he sure pi­o­neered this Cham­pi­ons Tour event well. To help that many chil­dren, that had to mean a lot to him.”

Added Gary Ped­dle, orig­i­nally the vol­un­teer chair­man for the Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic and now a mem­ber of the pa­tron group: “His vi­sion was so in­spir­ing. He wanted to make some­thing that was lon­glast­ing and that was im­pact­ful to all the char­i­ties that signed on with us. We have 182 char­i­ties that are in­volved right now, and they all mean some­thing to him and we’re all very proud of what’s been cre­ated as a re­sult of his ini­tial vi­sion and his drive.

“The Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic is the suc­cess that it is be­cause of Clay Rid­dell’s vi­sion, his com­pas­sion for peo­ple and his just be­ing a reg­u­lar guy who wanted to make change. I think that’s what he will be re­mem­bered for.”

Rid­dell liked to tell the story about his ini­tial con­ver­sa­tion with a few friends about a “tremen­dous busi­ness op­por­tu­nity,” bring­ing a pro­fes­sional golf event to Canyon Mead­ows.

Any prof­its, he told them, would be di­rected to char­ity. Any losses, they would cover out of their own pock­ets.

“Ev­ery­body was in, of course,” he told Post­media in 2017.

Rid­dell also con­vinced J.R. Shaw, an­other lo­cal busi­ness icon, that Shaw Com­mu­ni­ca­tions would be a per­fect part­ner as ti­tle spon­sor.

“With Clay and the peo­ple that he was go­ing to bring on board as pa­trons, I think they knew it was go­ing to be suc­cess­ful fi­nan­cially and knew it would be run to the high­est de­gree it could,” said Sean Van Kesteren, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor for the award-win­ning se­nior shootout.

“Clay was the guy that wanted to bring an event to Cal­gary, and he did. It’s a huge loss for us. He is a friend who will be sorely missed.”

Through the Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic, his le­gacy of giv­ing back to his com­mu­nity should live on. (His son, Jim Rid­dell, is also heav­ily in­volved as one of seven pa­trons.)

“I think, to some de­gree, the growth and the suc­cess of the tour­na­ment prob­a­bly ex­ceeded his ex­pec­ta­tions, but Clay had very big vi­sions for it,” McLaugh­lin said. “I asked him one time how he de­fined his suc­cess, in busi­ness or life or sports or in phi­lan­thropy and ev­ery­thing else, and he said: ‘You al­ways fo­cus on to­mor­row.’ I never re­ally for­got that. It’s a very telling state­ment from some­one who was ob­vi­ously very suc­cess­ful and very pas­sion­ate about the causes and the things he sup­ported.

“I know ev­ery­one wants to con­tinue to carry on his le­gacy, and we hope this tour­na­ment will be his le­gacy go­ing for­ward and con­tinue to help the hun­dreds of thou­sands of young peo­ple in and around Cal­gary and Al­berta.”

CHIP SHOTS: The crew from Al­berta cashed in on home-prov­ince ad­van­tage to win the in­ter-zone team ti­tle last week at the PGA As­sis­tants Cham­pi­onship of Canada at the Win­ston Golf Club. Ri­ley Flem­ing (Na­tional Golf Acad­emy), Wes Heffernan (Golf Canada Cal­gary Cen­tre), Eric Locke (Prid­dis Greens) and Dustin Ris­don (Na­tional Golf Acad­emy) com­bined for a two-day tally of 24-un­der 408. Que­bec’s Marc-Eti­enne Bussieres won the in­di­vid­ual crown.


A jum­botron trib­ute to the late Flames co-owner Clay Rid­dell noted a life of phi­lan­thropy and achieve­ment in busi­ness and sports.

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