For 53 years Dorothy Darrow has been ensuring the day-to-day operations of the Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton run without a hitch.
An Iowa native, Darrow, 90, continues to serve as clubhouse manager at the oldest 18-hole golf course in the United States. Her tenure at the club and involvement within the community prompted Wheaton’s mayor to recognize Darrow for her contributions to the city of Wheaton.
At her 90th birthday party on Jan. 13, Darrow was surprised by a proclamation from Wheaton Mayor Michael Gresk declaring that day to be “Dorothy D. Darrow Day.” Darrow, who was surrounded by friends and family when the mayor made the presentation, said she thought too much fuss was made over her birthday.
“It was a total surprise, but I didn’t want a big deal made over things,” Darrow said from the parlor of the golf club.
Gregg Slapak, a Darrow family friend, said the recognition of Darrow was long overdue.
As club manager Darrow manages the day-to-day operations of the clubhouse and restaurant. Although 90, she still maintains a minimum 35-hour work week, coming in at least four days a week for eight hours a day as well as weekend hours.
“I love my job, I think that’s what keeps me coming back,” she said.
Darrow came to Wheaton in the early 1950s and went to work at the golf club in 1960.
Over the 53 years she’s worked at the club, Darrow has seen many changes to Wheaton, including the growth of businesses, shopping and housing. She has watched the city population grow from approximately 8,000 when she first moved, to approximately 53,000 today.
Since she began working at the golf club Darrow said the number of staff has grown and shrunk over that time. Staff once lived in housing on club grounds, but the housing has since been torn down, she said. She recalled days of elegant gatherings at the club and some of the nation’s most famous people were guests at the club, including famed jockey Willie Shoemaker and Chicago Bear Dick Butkus.
Serving at the club for 53 years might seem lengthy, but Darrow said longevity of employment is not uncommon. During her tenure one waiter worked until he was 97-years-old. There have also only been three golf pros during that time.
“They’re my family,” she said of the club employees.
In addition to a close relationship with the staff, Darrow said she’s also developed a friendly relationship with many of the the 110 club members.
While Darrow said she has no intention of retiring from her duties at the club, when someone else takes the reins, she said her hope is the club remains virtually unchanged. She said the club is a wonderful place that doesn’t need to change.