Before he became one of Madison's most popular and likable golf professionals, George Schiro was one of its most popular and likable persons.
Schiro, known best for his work as an instructor at several Madison-area golf facilities but appreciated for so much more, died Oct. 27 at Brookdale Madison West at age 93. A memorial service for the life-long Madison resident will be held Monday at noon at Holy Wisdom Monastery, 4200 County Road M, in Middleton following a visitation, which begins at 10 a.m.
A saying at the end of Schiro's obituary summed up his life perfectly: "You only go around once, but if you do it right, once is enough."
There wasn't much that Schiro didn't do. And there wasn't much that Schiro didn't do well.
After graduating from Madison Central High School, where he lettered in football, basketball and golf, he attended Kansas University before joining the U.S. Navy and Air Force as a Gunnery Radio Man 3rd Class. Schiro returned to Madison in 1946 and began a journey that started and ended in the golf business.
Schiro, who was part of the caddie program at Blackhawk Country Club when he was younger, spent three years as an assistant golf professional at Nakoma Golf Club at age 21 under head professional George K. Vitense. Schiro left Nakoma and, over the next 25-plus years owned a sporting goods shop, a liquor store, a hobby shop and a pet store — all on Monroe Street, not far from the Greenbush neighborhood where he grew up — before golf beckoned yet again.
According to his obituary, Schiro was 48 when he entered the PGA of America program, earned his PGA card and spent the rest of his life teaching and working as a golf professional. Over the next three-plus decades, he worked at Odana Hills Golf Course and Vitense Golfland, where he owned and operated the Fore Seasons Golf Shop.
"I just teach simple methods," Schiro told the Wisconsin State Journal in a 1993 interview. "I think a good golf teacher has to communicate well with people. You have to know your students and their goals — what they want to do with the game. Teaching everyone by the same system doesn't work."
Following his formal retirement, Schiro continued to give lessons — and tell his famous jokes — on the teaching staff at Vitense Golfland. His obituary noted how he enjoyed working with the local high school teams, receiving many awards for his work with junior golfers and was being especially proud of the junior golf program he helped build at Vitense Golfland.
He came out of retirement to run the golf shop at The Green Golf Range in Middleton before it closed ahead of the Highway 12 bypass around Middleton. He also gave lessons at Urban Links Golf Dome in Fitchburg, which later closed ahead of the construction of Super Target.
"George made many cherished friendships over the years on the golf courses of Madison," his obituary read. "He truly loved the game and the thousands of golfers that he met through his career. But, in his own words, 'all good things must come to an end,' so in his late 70’s George hung up his spikes and enjoyed his membership at the course where it all began, the Nakoma Golf Club. He truly loved life, and lived it to the fullest."
Schiro is survived by his wife, Patricia (Brewer) Schiro, sons, Mark A., George “Jay”, Monty D. (Jodi), stepson, Tom Dean (Debbie), nine grandchildren, Joseph, Alison, Hannah, Travis, Devin, Lauren, Ian, Cassidy, and Logan; and great-granddaughters, Sicily and Ena; his sister, Mary (Lyle) Bull; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; and brothers, Frank (Marge), Damian (Audrey) and LaVonne Schiro.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial contributions in George’s name be made to Agrace HospiceCare, The Italian Workmen’s Club Scholarship Fund, or another charity of the donor's choice.