Tom Kite Loses His Life Partner Christy Kite
There was a time when famous golfer Tom Kite was the leading money winner in all of golf. He won the 1992 U.S. Open, and eighteen other tournaments. That was misleading, as he finished near the top of the leader board in almost every case back then. Being the leading money winner, one might expect to see him leading the high life, but it’s not his way, and never has been. He lives in a normal house, mows his lawn, coached his children’s soccer teams, and spent as much time at home as possible between rigorous traveling regimens. Part of that was due to his life partner, Christy Kite, who was of a similar mind.
Tom was a Texas Longhorn, and Christy played for Arizona State. They met quite by accident when Christy was out playing with her mother. The two were married in 1975, and it was a match – a really good match. We know so little about the families of famous golfers, and Kite’s situation would be the same, except that the modest Christy was so supportive of her husband’s career that to be invisible was impossible. The lead cheerleader when Tom won the U.S. Open, she traveled with him extensively through the touring years, and joined him in a non-ostentatious life style, in which they experienced little time to get away together. According to Christy, they waited thirteen years for a vacation, and never had a traditional honeymoon, but they did create a successful life together, that included three children – Stephanie, Paul, and David.
For Christy and Tom, it was important to be what you had always been, regardless of how well things were going. In reviewing articles from their most winning days, she is quoted as saying, “Hopefully, you are the same person you were brought up to be before you became successful.”
Added to the touring life were Christy’s other interests, which included a stint as a math and science teacher in Las Vegas, and a devotion to family. Similarly, Tom spent every available moment at home when they could not travel together. He seemed unflappable and serene on the golf course to those of us who watched through the 80s and 90s. Christy, it seems, contributed greatly to that outward tranquility.
This month, January of 2015, Tom Kite lost his revered partner, Christy, who succumbed to a battle with cancer that went on for a period of three years. He has, of course, declined to play in this weekend’s event to which he was invited. As I’ve heard it said, “If family doesn’t come before business, it’s not worth doing business at all.” Tom and Christy were apparently on the same page with that. Funeral services for Christy Kite will be held this week, and it is requested that anyone wishing to donate to one of her favorite causes consider the Dell Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, and the First Tee.
I was reminded, through the announcement of Christy Kite’s passing, that regardless of what we see on our television screens, the players we watch are a reflection of who they are off of the course, even if we don’t get to see it. Every competitor comes from a family, and at some level, the depth of performance shows its effectiveness. Tom and Christy Kite created an authentic life together, made their plan, and worked it with self-integrity. Such important losses wield influence on us all, as they are an inescapable part of life. Today, we turn our thoughts to Tom Kite’s loss, and congratulate them both for staying true to being “the same person you were brought up to be before you became successful.”