Washington and Lee alumnus and trustee Warren Stephens, of the Class of 1979, and his wife, Harriet, were honored in their hometown of Little Rock, Ark., last week by none other than former President George W. Bush. The occasion was the 10th anniversary of The First Tee of Little Rock Jack Stephens Youth Golf Academy.
President Bush now serves as the honorary chairman of First Tee, a national organization designed to give young people free access to golf courses, equipment and instruction. The 43rd president succeeded his father, President George H.W. Bush, in that role, and the elder Bush had been in Little Rock in 2001 to honor Warren’s late father, Jack Stephens, when the Jack Stephens Academy was dedicated.
Since his father’s death in 2005, Warren and Harriet have been instrumental in keeping First Tee operating in Little Rock, partly by making the organization one of the recipients of the annual Jack Stephens Charitable Trust tournament that is held at the Alotian Golf Club and has drawn such golf legends at Phil Mickelson, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, among others.
The First Tee celebration included the dedication of a garden in honor of Warren and Harriet.
In a story about the event in the Arkansas News, Warren said his father did not take up golf until he was 36, but that he was passionate about the sport, citing the camaraderie as a key to the game. Warren added that the assistance, encouragement and nurturing is the same at every First Tee facility.
“The mentors, volunteers, coaches, counselors and instructors watch a boy or girl walk through the door unaware of the game of golf and what it teaches,” he said. “Then years later watch them walk back out the door … on the path to responsible adulthood.”