Former Illinois PGA executive director Vance Redfern dies

Writing from Chicago

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Vance Redfern, a career sports administrator who was executive director of the Illinois PGA Section from 1989 to 1995, died Sunday, Sept. 15, in Silver City, New Mexico. He was 78.

Redfern succeeded Ken Boyce as executive director of the Illinois PGA. In his tenure, the office staff doubled and the section grew in both professionals served and in stature.

“The administrative leadership Vance brought to the Illinois Section truly allowed us to become one of the most progressive sections in the country,” said Michael Miller, who rejoined the Illinois PGA under Redfern in 1991 and eventually succeeded him. “His vision for growth and his ability to build and train a cohesive staff with the experience necessary to service a growing membership helped pave the way for many of the things we were able to accomplish as a section in the ensuing years.”

Redfern was involved in college athletics before and after serving as executive director, as an assistant athletic director at Illinois and a similar post at San Diego State. Both tenures ended in controversy, but Redfern’s stint at the Illinois PGA was spotless.

“He brought a new dimension to our association both with his technical expertise as well as with his dynamic personality,” longtime Kankakee Country Club professional Paul Reinking said in 1999, when he was the section president and Redfern, then at San Diego State, was a candidate for athletic director at New Mexico State.

Redfern was the third executive director of the section, following Mike Hall in 1975, who established an office for the group that previously was run by longtime president Harry Pezzullo out of his trunk, and Boyce. He was the mentor to Miller after his return from a sports marketing firm. 

“Vance was not just a boss,” Miller recalled from Scottsdale, Ariz., where he helms the Southwest PGA. “He was a true mentor, friend and confidante. The guidance and counsel he provided me early in my career without a doubt helped me become a better Section Executive Director and has played a huge role in my career.”

Redfern was also a hands-on executive.

“Vance was never hesitant to step in and do whatever was necessary to get the job done,” Miller said. “He wasn’t one to just direct from behind the desk. He never asked or expected staff to do something he wasn’t willing to do himself. He led by example and because of that he earned the respect, dedication and loyalty of his team.”

Redfern’s last posting, as executive director of the Western New Mexico University Foundation, was a return to his roots. He was a 1963 graduate of Western New Mexico, a standout on the golf team, and a member of the school’s hall of fame. He retired in 2014.

His wish was to not have a service.

– Tim Cronin



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