Fordie Pitts Jr., one of the state’s best-known and best-loved amateur golfers, died Tuesday. He will be remembered for his tireless efforts to promote and run the Southeastern Amateur Championship, but more for his personality.

Growing up, Fordie Pitts III loathed hearing stories about his father’s golfing feats, and they were countless.


The teenage Pitts, an accomplished golfer himself, would roll his eyes and think to himself, “Not again.”


On Tuesday, however, Pitts III, 46, basked in those same stories, and told a few himself, as he and his family remembered Fordie Pitts Jr., 79, who died that day after a prolonged illness.


“Now, anyone who wants to come up to me and tell me a Fordie story, I’ll gladly hear it,” Pitts III said from his parents’ house Tuesday.


Those familiar with South Shore and Cape Cod golf are familiar with Pitts. A former standout at North Quincy High and Boston College, Pitts went on to become one of the greatest amateur golfers Massachusetts has ever known.


Although he never won a Massachusetts Amateur Championship, he appeared in five U.S. Amateurs, three U.S. Senior Opens, earning low amateur honors in 1984, and several U.S. Senior Amateurs.


He shot a 64 in 1996 U.S. Senior Amateur qualifying at Cohasset Golf Club, becoming the youngest golfer to shoot below his age in a USGA event. He once co-owned Hyannis Golf Club, and worked tirelessly to promote and run the Southeastern Amateur Championship.


South Shore golf aficionados are also familiar with the anecdotes relating to him. For instance, how he once purposely hit a tee shot only a few inches to correct a handicap situation that he perceived as imbalanced, and prove to a friend he could beat him fairly. Or how the Southeastern Amateur was essentially begun because Pitts’ friends wanted a venue to dethrone him as the best amateur golfer on the South Shore.


(Pitts’ friends failed, as he won the inaugural tournament.)


Pitts’ family, however, has other stories, such as how golf brought together Pitts and his wife Mary Lou. Pitts was working as a 19-year-old pro at Scituate Country Club when he began giving lessons to Mary Lou’s mother.


“Every night my mother would come home and tell me there was a young pro at Scituate and I had to take lessons,” Mary Lou said. “I could have cared less, but said I’d go over. One thing I got was a lot of free lessons.”


Although the two wouldn’t marry for several years, the bond lasted.


They celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary earlier this month.


Pitts will be remembered for his performances in major tournaments, but he also won the MGA’s Father-Son Championship with Pitts III four times, and the Father-Daughter Championship six times – twice with Mary Lou, 48, and four times with Karen, 46.


Pitts was known for his competitive spirit, and Pitts III believes nothing demonstrates that better than the 1981 U.S. Senior Open at Oakland Hills Country Club in Birmingham, Mich.


“On the 16th hole, dad made a 13,” said Pitts III, who caddied for him. “He hooked his drive into the rough, and when we got to the ball, the forecaddy said: ‘I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is I found your ball; the bad news is I found your ball.’ There was water in front of him and on the right, and it took him three or four shots to hack it out. There was a big gallery behind the green, and when he finally hit it on there, they gave him a mock cheer.


“Most people would have been pretty upset coming off a 13. But on the 17th, a par-3, he got up there with a 1-iron and almost flew it into the cup. He got a two.”


Said Pitts III: “Most players would have given up, but not dad.”


Earlier this month, while Pitts’ family was visiting him in the hospital, someone started a conversation about who’d be the ideal person to make a four-foot putt with a life on the line. Some said Tiger Woods; Pitts III said his father.


“When it had to be made, he’d make it,” Pitts III said.


Mary Lou remembers a family trip to St. Andrews in Scotland, and also the fact that Corinne, 41, had the family’s only hole-in-one while playing with Pitts, despite the fact that she didn’t play much golf. Her ball never made it off the ground, instead rolling the 110 yards of Scituate’s eighth hole. But that didn’t stop Pitts from giving her encouragement.


“He said, ‘The wind’s not going to get that one,’” Mary Lou said.


Pitts has a fourth daughter, Lorraine, 51.


Former Ponkapoag head pro Ken Campbell knew Pitts as long as anybody, having caddied with him at Wollaston Golf Club and played alongside him at North Quincy High. Campbell knew from an early age that Pitts wasn’t one to back down from a challenge, a fact that was reaffirmed later in life.


“We were playing in an MGA event at Thorny Lea, and he got hit in the head by a golf ball,” Campbell said. “He was bleeding all over the place and had a towel around his head, and people kept trying to talk him into going to the clubhouse, but he wanted to keep playing. They finally convinced him it was better to go in.”


Braintree Municipal Golf Course head pro Bob Beach played against Pitts in several tournaments, and always noticed Pitts’ hands.


“He was more comfortable with a club in his hands than anyone I’ve ever seen,” Beach said. “I was amazed how good his grip was. Years later, I was playing with someone who told me that Fordie always said to have a club in your hand.”


Retired Patriot Ledger reporter Ron Hobson became friendly with Pitts through covering and playing golf, and admired the effort he exerted off the course, behind the scenes.


“He was just a great ambassador for the game,” Hobson said, “and he did it for such a long time.


“Tradition is very important to the game of golf, and Fordie knew that. He wanted it to live on.”


A wake for Fordie Pitts Jr. will be held Friday from 2 to 8 p.m. at McNamara-Sparrell Funeral Home at 1 Summer St. in Cohasset. A funeral Mass will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s of the Nativity Church in Scituate.


The Patriot Ledger