Nine Hole Ladies group seeks a new leader for tournament

By Lynn R. Parks

Several years ago, Seaford resident Nancy Harper was talking with someone from Nanticoke Memorial Hospital about skin analysis machines, and the fact that whenever the hospital wanted to use the cancer detection device, it had to borrow one from the American Cancer Society.

"Don't worry," Harper assured the person. "You'll have your own machine soon."

Harper is co-founder and president of the Nine Hole Ladies, a women's golfing group that plays every Thursday morning, May through October, at Hooper's Landing Golf Course in Seaford. Since 2007, the group has sponsored Pretty in Pink, an annual fundraiser for various charitable causes, mostly centered on helping in the fight against cancer.

Today, Harper laughs when she recalls her confidence in the event's ability to raise enough money to pay for a skin analysis machine. But as it turned out, Pretty in Pink didn't let her down. That year, the fundraiser brought in $8,000, $2,000 more than the cost of a skin analysis machine.

"This effort has really made a difference in our community," said Harper. In addition to buying the skin analysis machine, Pretty in Pink has raised money for the Mary Kay Foundation, which in turn donated to a shelter for abused women in Georgetown, and to Women Supporting Woman in Salisbury, Md. Last year, the tournament raised $17,000 to help pay for transportation for people who need to get to Nanticoke Health Services' Cancer Care Center.

Results from this year's fundraiser, held in June, are not in yet. Harper announced at the start of the tournament that proceeds again will go to the Cancer Care Center, this time to help pay for renovations to the chemotherapy and blood infusion area.

Harper and her helper from the start of Pretty in Pink, Arsie Burton, also made another announcement at the tournament: This would be the last year that they would run it.

"We have thoroughly enjoyed what we have done," Burton said, several weeks after the tournament.

"We are sad to be leaving," added Harper. "But it's a fact of life that we can't continue to do what we've always done."

The women have invited anyone from the Nine Hole Ladies groups to step up to run Pretty in Pink. So far, they've had no takers. Work on next year's tournament should get started soon, they said.

"I'll admit, it's a lot of work," Harper said. "Planning for the tournament takes all year. But it would be a sad thing if it didn't continue, after all the good that it has done for the community."

Harper, 74, is a lifelong resident of Seaford and a 1957 graduate of Seaford High School. She taught at Central Elementary School for eight years and is retired as a State Farm Insurance agent.

Burton, 67, is also a Seaford native and SHS grad, class of 1963. Like Harper, she taught at Central Elementary, retiring after 32 years.

Both women were district teachers of the year, Harper in 1964 and Burton in 1992. Harper went on to be named the state teacher of the year.

Harper said that she was inspired to start Pretty in Pink after her office manager, Carolyn Clough, died from breast cancer. Similarly, the death of Burton's good friend and fellow teacher Phyllis Kesler made her want to do something to help victims of the disease.

In addition to the golf tournament, Pretty in Pink includes a dinner, fashion show and auction. Funds come from participation fees as well as from advertisements that the group sells in its program.

Since its start, the tournament has raised more than $40,000. In addition to the donating to various organizations, the tournament also supports a scholarship fund for Taylor Lowe, 5, whose father, Phillip, of Laurel, died four years ago at the age of 27 from cancer.

For your information Nine Hole Ladies is open to all women. Fee to join is $25. For details, contact the pro shop at Hooper's Landing Golf Course, 629-2890.

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