River Valley Mourns Loss of Golf Legend

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The River Valley is mourning the loss of a local legend. Before his death, Jack Fleck was the oldest living U.S. Open Golf Champion.

Friends and family from all over the region gathered at First United Methodist Church in Fort Smith to honor the man they loved.

"He's our hero," said friend Philip Merry.

Fleck was known for many things, but most of all, he was known through the sport of golf.

"He had obtained a lot of prestige later as the prominence of his victory became more relevant as time went on being the oldest U.S Open Champion," said friend Ed Tallach.

Friends said he entered the golf world back in the summer of 1936 as a caddy. A year they say changed his life.

"The family was very poor, and Jack had to become a caddy in order to help supplement the family income," said Tallach.

Fleck enlisted in 1942 and served in the Navy as a part of D-Day.

"He was on a ship that was fighting rockets over into France to cover for the invasion," said Tallach.

In 1988 he moved to Fort Smith.

"He's a wonderful example of modesty, others first and pay it forward," said Merry.

Fleck lived to the age of 92-years-old. He was laid to rest Tuesday (March 25) at the U.S. National Cemetery in Fort Smith.