"He was just really a gentleman; that's the best way to describe him," Philadelphia PGA executive director Geoff Surrette said. "He was someone always willing to help or give advice or lend an ear if you had any problems."
Jack Connelly, head pro at Huntingdon Valley Country Club and a past president of the PGA of America, knew Mr. Rolfe for nearly 40 years.
"His best quality was his friendship," Connelly said. "When you met Ron Rolfe and you developed a friendship with him, he would do anything for you. I didn't know what better testament you can give somebody who's affected lives the way he has. He made a difference to his whole membership" at North Hills.
Mr. Rolfe was introduced to golf at age 12 as a caddie at New London Country Club. He lettered in four sports at Waterford (Conn.) High School before attending Mitchell College on a basketball scholarship.
Golf, however, was his focus when he left college. He turned professional in 1964 and took his first job as an assistant pro at New London Country Club. He spent one year there before arriving in Montgomery County in 1965 as an assistant to Bob Ross at North Hills.
The following year, after Ross left, Mr. Rolfe was hired as head professional even though he had yet to become a member of the PGA of America. He began a lifetime of service not only to North Hills members, but also to the section and the national PGA.
He spent more than 30 years on the Philadelphia PGA tournament committee, and served for 12 years as a district director.
Mr. Rolfe also was active behind the scenes when two local pros, Connelly and Dick Smith Sr., campaigned for national office and eventually were elected president of the PGA of America.
"Whatever I've done politically in the PGA, I owe to Ron Rolfe," Connelly said. "He taught me it was more fun to give rather than receive."
When he was younger, Mr. Rolfe played on the Caribbean Tour and in West Coast PGA Tour events during the winter. He was a regular contestant in local events. As a senior, he played on two victorious Ping Challenge Cup teams for the PGA against the Golf Association of Philadelphia.
He retired as head pro in 2007 but continued to regularly give lessons, which he did at North Hills as recently as Thursday.
"He was a great resource, a really great guy," said Michael Reilly, who succeeded Mr. Rolfe as head pro. "You always hear Ron before you see him, because he's always saying hi to somebody. It really hasn't hit me yet that I won't be seeing him walking down the hallway."
In a 2008 article marking the club's 100th anniversary, Mr. Rolfe said: "I really enjoyed the people at North Hills. I taught fathers and their sons and their grandsons to play. That's what I enjoyed most."
In addition to his mother, Mr. Rolfe is survived by his wife, the former Carole Sipe; sons Michael, Steven, and Daniel; four grandchildren; two brothers; and a sister.
A viewing will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 22, at North Hills Country Club, 99 Station Ave., North Hills. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Friday, July 23, at Abington Presbyterian Church, 1082 Old York Road, Abington, with a viewing at 9 a.m. Burial will be in Hillside Cemetery, Roslyn.
Memorial donations may be sent to Soaring Eagle, 745 Indian Trail, P.O. Drawer 879, Billings, Mont. 59103-0879.
Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or email@example.com