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67 YEARS TO TALK ABOUT

College buddies go golfing after one finds the other via a newsletter.

Frank Sutton and Fred Tannery first met in 1938, as freshmen at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. Both were football and baseball players: Sutton was a halfback and third baseman; Tannery, a halfback and shortstop.

After graduation in 1941, they joined the Army and shipped out to help fight World War II. Tannery was assigned to Fort Bragg in North Carolina; Sutton, to Fort Benning in Georgia.

When they left Presbyterian, they didn't see each other again.

No letters. No phone calls. No contact at all.

That changed recently, when Sutton saw Tannery's name while thumbing through a Presbyterian College alumni newsletter.

"We hadn't seen or heard anything from each other for 67 years,'' said Sutton, who lives in St. Petersburg. "I saw (Tannery) lived in Dunnellon, so my wife says, 'Call him up.'

"You know what he told me? He said, 'Frank, I'm 90 years old. I play golf twice a week. My handicap is 32.' I said to him, 'I'm 89 years old, I play golf seven days a week and my handicap is 25.' He said, 'Gosh dang, you always did try to jump ahead of me.'"

It was as if no time had passed.

Sutton is a retired colonel. He served in North Africa and Italy during World War II.

When he retired in 1972, Sutton settled into his house in Lakewood Estates, right behind the St. Petersburg Country Club driving range.

Tannery retired from the Army in 1961, but continued working as a reserve technician for 30 years. After 50 years of government service, Tannery moved to Florida from Columbia, S.C. after his wife died in 1994 to live with his son, Don.

Tannery still plays golf twice a week at Pine Ridge Golf and Country Club or Twisted Oaks Golf Club.

"When (Sutton) called, Dad was like, 'Holy Cow!,''' Don Tannery said. "He asked him if he played golf, so then I arranged for them to meet.''

Don Tannery drove his father to St. Petersburg Country Club on Friday for the reunion. They ate lunch and played a round of golf, all 18 holes.

And they told stories about their days on the Presbyterian football team.

"We'd have to play Clemson the first game every season,'' Sutton said. "They had three All-Americans on their team and we're this little, bitty school. That was some tough going.''

They also talked about the war, family and how they started playing golf.

"We thought golf was a sissy man's game back in those days,'' Tannery said. "But they had a good golf course at Fort Benning, where I was stationed after the war. I just started playing.''

"We were too dang poor to play golf back in those days,'' Sutton added. "We might've played if we could steal some golf balls and some clubs.

"I ain't done nothing but play golf since. I live in that white house right by the range. I look out everyday and say I'm not going to play, but then I see my buddies out there so I go out. I play six rounds a week. I used to play seven but my wife said I play too much so I cut out Sundays. Being a selfish sort, I cut out Sundays because then I can watch football and Gunsmoke.''

Both would like to stay in touch, but they're not sure how much golf they can play together.

Sutton said he rarely drives outside of Lakewood Estates, and Tannery is reliant on his son to get around.

But for at least one day, they got to catch up on 67 years of life. And as they talked to each other, it wasn't hard to imagine that the conversation was taking place in a dorm room inClinton, S.C.

"I made one hole-in-one in my life,'' Tannery said.

"I've made 14 or 15,'' Sutton said. "Gotcha again.''

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