In memoriam: Ken Melrose

The former CEO of The Toro Co. and a generous supporter of golf course superintendents and equipment managers passed away May 3.


Ken Melrose GCSAA

Ken Melrose, a longtime friend and supporter of GCSAA and its members, passed away May 3, 2020, at the age of 79. Through the Kendrick B. Melrose Family Foundation, Melrose, former CEO and chairman of the board of The Toro Co., made three large donations to GCSAA and its philanthropic organization, the Environmental Institute for Golf, in the past decade, totaling $2.5 million.

In 2012, the foundation gave $1 million to endow the Melrose Leadership Academy, which supports the professional development of golf course superintendents through opportunities to attend the annual Golf Industry Show. In February 2019, a second $1 million gift was announced to create the Melrose Equipment Management Endowment, to offer continuing education, a certificate program and the Melrose Equipment Management Experience, which brings GCSAA-member equipment managers to the Golf Industry Show for leadership and education sessions. In July 2019, the Melrose Foundation contributed an additional $500,000 to support GCSAA’s First Green STEM education program.

“I believe that GCSAA is the best organization to deliver the education and training that will not only benefit golf course management professionals, but their facilities and the game,” Melrose said during a taped broadcast at the 2019 Golf Industry Show in San Diego. “I know you and your wonderful organization will do great things with this.”

Melrose also served on the Environmental Institute for Golf’s Board of Trustees. In honor of his support of GCSAA, the auditorium at GCSAA’s headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., was named the Kendrick B. Melrose Auditorium in 2019.

“GCSAA has lost a true friend with the passing of Ken Melrose,” says Rhett Evans, GCSAA CEO. “His generous gifts have made a difference in the professional lives of superintendents and equipment managers, and also brought STEM education opportunities to young people, which, as the son of a teacher, was very important to him. His philanthropic acts will benefit the golf industry for years to come. On a personal note, Ken was a positive influence on my life, and I am the better for having known him.”

Hear from Ken Melrose and take a look back at some of his contributions to GCSAA:

Melrose joined The Toro Co. in 1970 and quickly ascended the company’s ranks, culminating in his appointment as CEO in 1983 and chairman of the board of directors in 1987. He retired as CEO in 2005 and from the chairman position in 2006. That same year, he formed Leading by Serving LLC, a company whose mission is to advance the principles of servant leadership in business organizations.

Through his work with Leading by Serving, Melrose engaged in philanthropic endeavors by giving to community programs and other organizations. Melrose was a native of Orlando, Fla., and earned degrees in mathematics and electrical engineering from Princeton in 1962. He received his master’s degree from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and later an MBA from the University of Chicago.

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