Rj Thomas Harper, Jr.
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Rj Thomas Harper, Jr.
  • August 30, 1956 - November 8, 2017
  • Pebble Beach, California

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Robert "RJ" Harper

RJ Harper, 61, (Robert T. Harper, Jr) passed away, Nov. 8, 2017 after a 14 month battle with pancreatic cancer.

RJ, who grew up known as Bobby, was born August 30, 1956 to Yolanda Talassio Harper (Hall) and Robert T. Harper, in Memphis, TN. While life was not easy in south Memphis, young Bobby excelled both in the classroom and in all sports.

RJ received a full athletic/academic scholarship to Rhodes College in Memphis graduating in 1978. An outstanding baseball and football player at Rhodes (where he is in the Athletic Hall of Fame), RJ still holds several records he set as a running back. RJ received his M.Ed from East Stroudsburg University (Pennsylvania), worked for a year with juvenile offenders and then enjoyed a year backpacking through Europe and the Middle East where, on a Greek Island, he met the woman he would later marry.

RJ's next step was Miami, Florida, where he taught high school English and Government and coached both football and women's basketball. It was during his summer break that RJ spent much time on the course and began to consider a career in golf. In June, 1985, RJ completed his teaching assignment, married Kelly Yost and together they zig-zagged across the USA in a Volkswagen van exploring the country in pursuit of the place to call home.

In the fall of 1985, RJ reached the Monterey Peninsula and the golf mecca of the world - Pebble Beach. And after that, the rest is golf world history. RJ's tremendous leadership and relationship building skills were quickly recognized at the Pebble Beach Co. as he rose through the ranks from Golf Course Marshal to Pebble Beach Head Golf Professional and ultimately to EVP of Golf (and Retail) for the Pebble Beach Co., one of the most prestigious positions in the golf world. During RJ's 32 year tenure with Pebble Beach Co., he was widely recognized as one of the outstanding leaders in the golf industry. His charismatic personality, one of a kind smile, and outgoing nature endeared him to countless Pebble Beach employees and guests. Many CEO's, musicians, entertainers, athletes, professional golfers, and politicians across the country consider themselves close friends of RJ.

RJ's accomplishments in the golf world are many and include serving as Pebble Beach Head Golf Professional during the 1992 U.S. Open, as Championship Director of the 2000 U.S. Open, and as General Chairman of the 2010 and 2019 U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach. RJ played a major role in the founding of AT&T Junior Golf on the Monterey Peninsula, serving as a board member for many years. At different times in RJ's career, he coached women's basketball at Monterey Peninsula College and football at Stevenson School. RJ was a talented guitarist and singer and occasionally sang a few songs on stage with country artist Clay Walker during his national tours.

Closer to home, RJs greatest joys were found in his two sons Tucker (28), and JT (25). With them he enjoyed his great passions of golf, music and fishing.

RJ enjoyed trips to Memphis and time with his dear friends from Rhodes. He beamed when Jerry Hampton, Joe Hyrka, and Mike Clary came to visit in Pebble Beach, often bringing their families.

RJ has many local friends, but the family would like to especially acknowledge Bill and Nanci Perocchi, Eric Barnes, and Margo Daniels for their roles as honorary extended family.

During this past year, the family has come to greatly appreciate Zach Koontz, MD and the team at Pacific Cancer Care in Monterey, and George Fisher, MD, Maureen Hogan, and the team at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto.

A celebration of life will be held on November 21st at 9:00am on the 18th lawn of Pebble Beach Golf Links. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to either the RJ Harper Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at Stanford University Hospital or to a charity of one's choice that focuses on assisting underprivileged youth.

RJ was predeceased by his parents and is survived by his beloved family, including his two sons, Tucker (aka Joseph Michael) Harper and JT (aka Robert Joshua Taylor) Harper; his two grandsons, Cade and Hudson Harper; his former wife and close friend, Kelly (Yost) Harper; and his sister, Cathy Carr.

Arrangements under the direction of The Paul Mortuary, Pacific Grove, CA.