Sep 25, 2018

Lebow, longtime leading lady of Philadelphia golf, dies at age 95

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Adele Lebow, a women’s golf advocate and longtime Spring Ford Country Club member, died Sept. 19. She was 95.

Obituary |
  Lebow, of Royersford, Pa., was a prominent voice on the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia front. She served on the organization’s nominating committee before a stint as president (1976-1977). In 1983, Lebow was selected to chair the Association’s Course Rating Committee. She became an honorary WGAP member in 1997. Lebow also served as president of the Pennsylvania State Women’s Golf Association (1990-91).

“She was so dedicated to everything,” Charlotte Barnhard, former WGAP Executive Director, said. “Even after she was president, she continued to come to our tournaments. She went to a lot of the Junior Inter-City Matches, whether we were at home or in Massachusetts or New York. When we started a course rating service, she did all of the formulas that first year on her little calculator because there wasn’t any software.”

Lebow’s dedication and volunteer spirit stretched into Junior golf. She, along with Laura Borsdorf and Nancy Kline, established Girls Golf of Valley Forge, a developmental program for girls ages 7-17, in 2006. Girls Golf of Valley Forge aims to create a network for girls to learn how to play golf, to build friendships and to sample competition in a positive and supportive environment.

“[When Lebow started Girls Golf of Valley Forge], she came to me and said, ‘What are you doing this Saturday afternoon? I have about four or five girls I want you to help,’” Tony DeGisi, Spring Ford’s pro emeritus and head professional from 1973-2009, said. “I said, ‘I can help you this weekend.’ When we got done, she very casually said to me, ‘Can we do this again next weekend?’ She never told me this was an ongoing thing. I really got into the program after that. She inspired me to do things for golf.”

Lebow served as site director for Girls Golf of Valley Forge until 2015, when her daughter-in-law Patty assumed the position. Patty notes that Adele’s enthusiasm for the game was contagious.

“She had an immense impact on young girls. She organized Girls Golf of Valley Forge to enable girls to get lessons and to learn the basics,” Patty Lebow, 62, of Royersford, Pa., said. “She went to every session. She grew the program. We’re anywhere from 70 to 100 members now.”

“She opened up a lot of doors for girls to get into Junior golf,” Rich Steinmetz, Spring Ford’s current professional, added. “She was a go-getter, that’s for sure. She was a real busybody who did great things for golf, not only in this area but everywhere obviously, given her national recognition.”

In 2004, Adele Lebow became the first woman to receive the USGA’s Joe Dey Award, which recognizes an individual’s meritorious service to the game as a volunteer. She also received the organization’s Ike Grainger Award for more than 25 years of service on the USGA Regional Affairs Committee.

“She knew how to handle people very well. She had a good head on her shoulders,” Barnhard, 75, of Havertown, Pa., said. “When Mrs. (Peg) Burnett was [at the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia office], the Executive Committee was coming in for a meeting on a Monday. Adele walked in, handed her a scorecard and said, ‘I had my first hole-in-one on Sunday.’ Mrs. Burnett said to her, ‘That’s the second scorecard I’m getting today. Charlotte gave me one. She had her first on Saturday.’ Adele was a very good friend. We bonded from the start. It feels like the end of an era.”

Lebow joined Spring Ford in 1953 and won the women’s championship on 10 occasions. In addition to countless golf lessons together, DeGisi speaks highly of her women’s golf promotion among the membership.

“She was very active at Spring Ford. She was very well-liked,” DeGisi, 72, of Royersford, Pa., said. “I always thought of her as the Arnold Palmer of Spring Ford. What Arnold Palmer did for the game of golf, Adele Lebow did for not only Spring Ford, but for the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania State Women’s Golf Association.”

Lebow was the wife of the late Charles (Chick) Lebow. In 1949, the couple opened Lebow Furniture Co., which served the Royersford community for more than 64 years. In 2002, the Lebows built a children’s playground on Chestnut Street in appreciation of the shared happiness and good fortune they enjoyed in the borough.

Lebow is survived by sons Jack, husband of Elyse (Pacioni) Lebow, and Roger, husband of Patty (Plotts) Lebow; grandchildren Michael Lebow and Susan Moran and great-granddaughter Molly Moran.

A celebration of Lebow’s life will take place Friday, Oct. 5 at Spring Ford from 5 to 7 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Girls Golf of Valley Forge, PO Box 74 Royersford, PA. 19468 or online at

Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 260 Full Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across Eastern Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

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