The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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June 16, 2014

Late 'First Lady' of BNI to be honored at 2014 tournament

Beth Hanna was key contributor to area's top local golf event

Beth Hanna used to joke that her third date with her future husband was the 2000 BNI golf tournament.

But it wasn’t a joke.

“And it wasn’t your typical date,” her husband and former BNI tournament director Pat Hanna said. “I talked her into coming down for the BNI that summer, and she immediately rolled up her sleeves and went to work.”

As one BNI evolved into another, she took on more work.

“Anyone who has been involved in event planning can tell you of the work that has to be done before the event ever arrives, especially an event the size of the BNI where you have 160 or more golfers in a tournament that’s played on three courses in three days,” Pat Hanna said.

“Beth was heavily involved in that preparation. She personalized the scorecards. She color-coded the score sheets to differentiate between the regular players, junior players and those in the three senior divisions. She assisted with food and beverage, shirt designs for sponsors and volunteers, trophy and prize selections, volunteer assignments, etc. She organized gift bags.

“Once the tournament started, she had her own scoring system, and you’d better not mess with it. She was up half the night before the final round doing another set of score sheets for the flights.”

Her daughter, Chastain Flournoy of suburban Richmond, Va., also saw the work up close.

“When Mom came to visit to take care of her parents or to see me, (son-in-law) Max and (grandson) Kent, she would bring BNI paperwork to fill her free time,” she said.

“I’d catch her stuffing envelopes and working on her systems. She aways had to schedule visits around the BNI. Once, she told me not to have any sort of emergency while she was working the tournament because she would be unavailable. She was kidding ... mostly.”

“It was a labor of love for both of us,” Pat Hanna said. “And beyond her work, she gave me unwavering support when I’d get frustrated over something that wasn’t going as planned. To put it simply, I couldn’t have done it without her.”

On July 12, 2013, on the eve of the start of last summer’s BNI, Beth Hanna died of cancer.

Now, a year later, Beckley Newspapers Publisher Frank Wood and current tournament director David Hunter have announced that she will be the memorial honoree at the 2014 BNI, set for July 12≠14 at Grandview, Brier Patch and Glade Springs.

“It is fitting that we honor Beth for her many years of contributions in planning and helping to organize the foremost local golf event in the area,” Wood said. “Pat was the meticulous director of the BNI for several years, but Beth was the First Lady. She was very close to the BNI golf family, always pleasant to everyone, tactful and dependable. Beth was always planning the next BNI, while making sure that the golfers’ needs were met and the tournament was run efficiently and professionally.”

“The first year Beth became involved with the BNI, I could easily see her love and passion for the tournament and the players,” Hunter said. “She worked tirelessly to improve the BNI year after year, and was successful in doing so. The BNI is one of the elite golf tournaments in West Virginia, largely due to the efforts of Beth.”

Pat Hanna, who retired from Beckley Newspapers in 2010, said both he and Chastain are deeply touched by the honor.

“This means so much to both of us, as well as other family members,” he said. “The BNI has always had a family theme, and one of the things that Beth treasured was the friendships she developed over the years at the BNI.”

He recalled an instance when his wife was hospitalized last year in Morgantown.

“We were sitting there one evening, and she asked me to go out and get her some new bedroom slippers,” he said. “So I’m in the checkout line at Wal-Mart, and all of a sudden I look up and see longtime BNI participant Rocky McKinney, who was in Morgantown visiting family.

“I had a WVU Hospitals visitor pass stuck to my shirt. Rocky saw it and asked me who was in the hospital. I told him it was Beth and that she was undergoing cancer treatment. He gave me a hug and told me to give Beth a hug for him when I got back.

“So I get back to her room with the bedroom slippers. Beth always had a habit that whenever I would go to the store or go to a ball game, when I got home she would ask who all was out and about.

“So here we are, in Morgantown. She is hooked up to monitors and medicine, sick from chemo, and she asks, ‘Did you run into anybody you know?’

“And I said, ‘As a matter of fact, I did.’

“She asked who it was, and I said, ‘One of your all≠time favorite people from the BNI.’

“She looked up and asked, somewhat incredulously, ‘Rocky?’

“I said, ‘Yes, it was Rocky.’ She smiled from ear to ear. Then I gave her the hug that I promised Rocky I would give her.

“Beth and I shared a lot of memories from the BNI. I’ll never forget that one. That’s the essence of the BNI, the lifetime friendships.

“You never get over the hurt of losing a loved one, especially your spouse and best friend, but the support I’ve received from the BNI family over the past year has been of great comfort.

“More than anything, Beth was a devoted mother, grandmother and wife. We miss her dearly.”

Previous BNI memorial honorees include Chuck Smith, Larry Hickman, Jeff Davis, Ben McGraw, Glenn Scott, Jimmy Jones and Andy Holland.

For more information on the 2014 BNI, contact David Hunter at 304-573-8926, or at dhunter0119@yahoo.com.

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