MARBLEHEAD — Dick Murray put his status as an honorary member at Tedesco Country Club in proper perspective.
“Usually,” Murray says, “this kind of honor comes to members who are about to die. I hope they’re not trying to tell me something.”
Murray, 92, is one of four nonagenarians who have been given honorary memberships at Tedesco. The other three are Don Durkee (93), Ed Barry (94) and Paul McNeil (93). All four have been members at Tedesco for more than 60 years, and they have seen many changes in the course in that time.
“It’s a great golf course,” said Durkee, who ran the Durkee-Mower company in Lynn that produced Marshmallow Fluff. “It’s undergone a lot of facelifts, and it’s only made the course better.”
One of the perks in being named an honorary member at Tedesco is that your days of paying a yearly fee are over.
But in the grand scheme of things, for Tedesco’s four latest honorary members, free memberships are the least of the reasons to be proud of being so recognized.
“The recognition is the nicest part of it,” said Durkee. “I’ve been a member for so long, and all of us have contributed a lot to the club.”
Murray, by far the most talkative of the four, said he joined Tedesco in 1951 because his boss at the time, was a member of The Vesper CC in Tyngsborough and urged him to join one too.
“So I set out to join Tedesco,” said Murray, who grew up in Swampscott and played for the Big Blue in the early 1940s. “I used to come up from the tracks and play the back nine,” Murray said.
These days, Murray’s home borders the fifth hole at the golf course that straddles the Marblehead-Swampscott line.
“Still,” he said, “I don’t get out there very much these days.”
He attributes that to a sciatic nerve condition in his back.
None of the four honorees have factored in many — if any — of the prestigious club championships, or tournaments, every year. Murray did win the Alex Ellis memorial in 1953, “but if you look at the plaque outside this door (of the 19th hole), my name’s not on it.”
Club president Luke Tsokanis calls the four “a great source of inspiration.”
“Over their tenure,” Tsokanis said, “they have contributed to the club’s development by serving on various committees and/or the Board of Governors.
“Their knowledge of the club’s history and experiences over more than two generations are irreplaceable. And those of us in current leadership roles are grateful to have their counsel.”
For McNeil, he acknowledges: “I was never very good, though I did win the round-a-day at the Fourball once.
“I just enjoy getting out there and playing with friends,” he said. “It’s a great course. And I enjoy the social aspect of the club. And this is such a beautiful course.”
The same goes for Durkee.
“It’s just the friendships you develop with the players,” he said. “And it’s fascinating the way the place has changed over the years.
“Walking down these corridors brings back a lot of memories. The course has changed, and my handicap has gone up.”
Barry has been a member since 1948.
“I’ve been playing with some of these fellas for over 40 years,” he said. “I don’t have the stories some of these other guys have. I mostly sit as a bystander and listen. Durkee has all the good stories.”
These days, none of them get out very much, although Murray is probably there the most out of the four.
“Well, I live here,” he said. “I come here every morning, and if I can, I work out for a half hour (in the gym) and then come up here (to the 19th hole) to read the papers.”