In my mind, there are several “legends” of our fair village and the Sandhills.

They include the Tufts family, of course, especially James Walker, who with his son Leonard helped build Pinehurst from scratch; and Donald Ross, surely, with his influence on the game of golf in the area. Peggy Kirk Bell certainly is a legend who has fostered women’s golf over the years.

Gen. George C. Marshall deserves to be a legend as a World War II hero and Pinehurst resident. I’m skipping Annie Oakley because she was a transient.

David Michael Wolff is a local legend because he is a genius in many ways and has brought the joy of music to many folks in the area, including children.

I think of a legend as a celebrity personality who has weathered the storm and has hung in there for years.

Andy Wilkison fits this definition as our town manager for 26 years. At 52, he says, “I feel very blessed to be in a town that has grown like it has — from about 2,000 people when I got here to more than 15,000 now — and been able to preserve much of its historic character and charm.”

David Woronoff has been a stalwart at the helm of The Pilot newspaper and other ventures for many years, providing local news to residents.

Both Don Padgetts, father and son, as well as Robert Dedman, deserve recognition for the many improvements and renovations they implemented for the Pinehurst Resort and Country Club. Nancy Sadler is a legend for all she has accomplished as country club manager for 15 years or more.

Tom Stewart, owner of The Old Sport Gallery, is a Pinehurst icon with as many tales to tell as anyone is willing to listen to, including when he helped build the first golf course in Moscow and taught Mikhail Gorbachev how to play golf. Tom is close friends with many golf stars, including Palmer and Nicklaus.

The Barrett family, including brothers Peter and Robert, bought the Pine Crest Inn from Donald Ross and have kept it very much alive as a favorite Pinehurst accommodation, dining and drinking venue.

Audrey Moriarty of the Tufts Archives has done much to preserve the historical aspects of the area — including her book, “Pinehurst: Golf, History and the Good Life.”

John Dempsey, president of Sandhills Community College, has provided the area with unique educational opportunities

I think Marva and Tommy Kirk have provided some exciting transportation programs and outings over the years.

Without Pinecrest coach Chris Metzger, the high school might be a dreary place to learn — and without a football team, perhaps. Chris’ leadership isn’t just on the football field, as he has infused the entire school with life guidelines and responsibilities.

I have saved Willie McCrae’s story until last because it is truly most noteworthy and timely. Willie recently spoke at the Sandhills Men’s Fellowship and has written a book, “On the Bag.”

In his book, he relates how he began his fascinating life and career. Willie is a caddie and has been at it for more than 70 years. He is 81 and was strongly encouraged by his dad to learn caddying in 1943 to help the family of 14 exist. His first loop earned him the grand total of $1.25, including tip.

Since he was 10, Willie has caddied for presidents, celebrities of the game and famous athletes, and is the only caddie allowed to use a golf cart on No. 2.

In 2003 Willie was inducted into the Caddie Hall of Fame (along with Fanny Sunesson, Nick Faldo’s caddie for years).

Local legends — did I miss any?

Andy Thomas lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at

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