ALAMEDA -- Reserved, humble, helpful and well-respected, Alameda's Bob Blomberg also was one of the Island's all-time greatest sportsmen and a most accomplished amateur golfer.
Blomberg, a six-time winner of the Alameda Commuters Golf Tournament and a great proponent and ambassador for the game of golf, died on June 10. A long-active man diagnosed with cancer last year, Blomberg was 68.
"I don't think there was anybody who didn't like Bob Blomberg," said friend and fellow golfer John Childs.
Childs's oldest daughter, Emily -- now preparing to play in the U.S. Women's Open later this month -- also recalled Blomberg's goodness, especially upon becoming the first female golfer to make the cut at the Commuters in 2008.
"I remember during the awards ceremony he was so excited for my success, he even invited me to play in his all men's group on Saturday mornings, which is kind of unheard of being a woman in a very male-dominated sport," Emily Childs emailed from Canada, where she had competed in a tournament last week. "He was always so kind and had a huge heart."
Other memories go back many years earlier.
"Bob Blomberg and I grew up together; our mothers pushed us in strollers when we were infants," said fellow Commuters committee member Bob Blanchard. "He was a true gentleman. He was very well thought of, never lost his values. (His success) never went to his head."
Blomberg lived long enough to see the Commuters committee establish the Bob Blomberg Champions Medal, presented for the first time this year. He made one of his final public appearances at the Chuck Corica Golf Complex on the tournament's final day, April 28, to present the medal to this year's winner, Cal golfer Pace Johnson.
"It's a great honor," Blomberg told the gathering, referring to the establishment of the medal bearing his name. "It's just been a lifetime of fun playing out here."
As it was, Johnson led a contingent of Cal players at this year's Commuters, providing Blomberg the opportunity to lend some humor.
"There are a lot of good Cal players (here)," Blomberg said. "They wouldn't let me in Cal, but it's sure fun to be here seeing them all play."
Indeed, Blomberg turned professional after graduating from Alameda High School in 1963, going to work as an assistant pro at The Presidio Golf Club and Sequoyah Country Club. By 1966, Blomberg sought to regain his amateur status, a request the U.S. Golf Association granted in 1968.
Blomberg quickly went on to win the Oakland City Championship that year (in all, he won the Oakland Championship six times). But his first taste of amateur golf success came seven years earlier when he won the 1961 San Francisco City Second Flight Championship.
In his long career, Blomberg went on to win national tournaments as well as ones in France and Britain. He played in the Bing Crosby Pro-Am (now known as the AT&T) five times. But to Alamedans, he is most remembered for his success in the Commuters, which he first won in 1974.
"When Bob started to win the Commuters, I was maybe 14 or 15, and I wanted to be like Bob," said Mike Maurice, now the tournament's head of marketing and publicity. "A lot of young golfers wanted to be like Bob. He was one of the toughest competitors. I remember when the line of cars at the Commuters went out the gate ... that was because of Bob. I remember the putts he made to win the Commuters."
Together with his success (he also was Commuters runner-up four times), Blomberg stayed close to his roots, helping teach the game at the youth and high school levels.
"I got to know him then when he helped Alameda High golf coach Stretch Pearson with the golf team," said Commuters committee member Steve Taddei, a Hornets player in the 1970s. "He loved working with us. Bob had a great personality and had golfing friends from all over the world. He was not only loved and respected by his contemporaries, he was a role model to young golfers."
Aside from his time as a club pro, Blomberg remained an amateur. A bout with hepatitis left him hospitalized off and on from 1963-67, taking a toll.
Long a single man, Blomberg leaves behind his wife of eight months, Laurie Hobson, her children and her grandchildren.
"He was a great golfer, but he was even a greater man," Hobson said. "I don't think anyone would dispute that."
A memorial for Blomberg will take place at 2 p.m. July 27 at the Chuck Corica Golf Complex. Donations in his memory can be made to Alameda Junior Golf, 1 Clubhouse Drive, Alameda 94502.
A memorial for Bob Blomberg will take place at 2 p.m. on July 27 at the Chuck Corica Golf Complex. Donations in his memory can be made to Alameda Junior Golf, 1 Clubhouse Drive, Alameda 94502.