May 16, 2011: The Celebration of a Life

~ by Mary Galvano

This past Friday, May 13, 2011 was the 15th annual Phil Galvano Golf Classic held in honor of my father the late Phil Galvano. The first memorial golf tournament which was run by my brother Peter Galvano, was held in Ft. Myers, FL to benefit Hope Hospice. It has since moved to Manatee County in the Bradenton/Sarasota area. This once intimate memorial tournament is now one of Manatee County’s most anticipated events. Over 150 golfers participate each year.

All proceeds from the tournament benefit the Manatee Education Foundation, which serves 43,000 students and 3,325 teachers in Manatee County. Established in 1988, the Foundation provides enhanced educational opportunities for students and teachers, who cannot be funded through traditional resources such as tax dollars. Examples of the Foundation’s efforts include: classroom grants, student recognition efforts such as Brains on the Beach, teacher recognition efforts such as Honor Thy Teacher, and scholarships for seniors. To date, more than $1.3 million has been successfully raised in Phil Galvano Sr.’s memory for the students and teachers of Manatee County.

Phil Galvano was truly loved by the community. He was a man of integrity and believed in education as the key to opening doors. Phil was a teacher himself, a teacher’s teacher, and would often say, “If you go to bed without learning something you have wasted a day.” He was self-taught, however, growing up during the Great Depression left him to start work by the age of six. Going to school was a luxury for many during that era. Often our family gets asked why does the money go to education and not something like hunger or illnesses. The answer that my father felt in his heart was that many of the world’s challenges can be solved through education. It can prevent poverty and hunger by helping someone get a job and it can lead to discovering cures for diseases or even preventing diseases by giving us valuable information and good doctors and scientists. Education can also lead to a more civilized world. My father believed in this whole-heartedly!

Most importantly, Phil Galvano gave his life to serving others. He loved family. It was the most important thing in the world to him. Family was first! He owned a golf course in Bradenton, FL called Santa Rosa Country Club where a lot of people playing in the memorial tournament used to go play and practice golf. On holidays such as Christmas and Easter Dad would close his business so that his employees could have the holiday off to be with family. He would put a big sign up on the door for the public saying, “Merry Christmas or Happy Easter! Enjoy the course!” People could play golf on his course for free on days like these!

He was a great lover of life and all its beauty. He would thank God everyday for his life. He loved nature and animals and believed in the power of God through creation. One of the many things he used to do was to take his shoes off and stand barefoot on the earth, because he believed we could get healing and strength from God’s beautiful earth. That was Dad!

Phil Galvano was, and still is, a great example of life. He truly lived and never took a single second for granted. His life proved that it is not important how long you live but rather how you live, and how you die.


Mary Galvano-Bajohr is a singer/songwriter, LPGA golf instructor, speaker and author. On the golf course she is a dedicated professional, but go to a Yankee game, a Pro-life event or other venue and you just might see her step up to the microphone and sing the National Anthem or the Ave Maria.

Visit Mary’s website at

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