Story by Ed Townsend
Jean Knickerbocker will turn 90 on October 13 and since she plays golf seven days a week that birthday celebration might very well come on the course.
Considered one of the top woman golfers in the tri-town areas of Rockland, Neversink and Fremont in New York and in the Summertree area of New Port Richey in Florida, Jean has won at least 10 club championships at Roscoe’s Twin Village Golf Club and 13 club championships at the Summertree Golf Course in New Port Richey. Jean has also won several Invitational Tournaments.
Added to her club championships are five hole-in-ones, three at Summertree and two at Twin Village on the 4th and 6th holes. With partner Mary Austin, she won the Twin Village Women’s League championship last year at age 88!
Playing presently to a 10 handicap at Roscoe and a 6 handicap at Summertree, Jean said that she usually plays just nine holes a day but on the Thursday Ladies day at Twin Village she will play nine holes before noon and then add another nine for the league.
Born on October 13, 1922 (Friday the 13th) in Bliss, NY, south of the Buffalo area, Jean said that she was raised on a farm and graduated from Bliss High School in 1938, from Houghton College in 1943 and later received her Master of Library Science degree from SUNY Geneseo. In college, Jean lettered in three sports, basketball, tennis and track. One of the great professional honors Jean enjoys is her selection as a member of MENSA (for IQ and intelligence level).
After college, she taught at Henderson High School in the Town of Henderson, Jefferson County, for one year and put in quite the day, instructing 7-12 math, 4-12 physical education, accompanying the chorus on the piano, coaching the cheerleaders and the boys basketball team and then driving the boys basketball players home after practice.
Jean moved to the Roscoe area in 1944 to begin a 28-year teaching career at Roscoe Central where she taught math before taking seven years off to raise her family. She returned to the school district as a librarian.
In 1944 Jean took up golf after being urged to play with school physical education teacher Dure’ Seitel. “We rode to the golf course on our bicycles,” she noted.
In 1946 Jean married LaVerne Knickerbocker who she met after he returned from military service. LaVerne was an outstanding athlete, was a good golfer and they joined the Twin Village Golf Club for $35 which Jean noted was the family club fee at that time.
It wasn’t until 1979 that Jean started to play every day, noting that “we walked the course.”
The Knickerbockers raised three children, Terry, 65, former Jeff-Youngsville teacher and track coach who now lives in New Bern, North Carolina; Tom, 65, of Poughkeepsie and The Villages in Florida and Kim, 57, of Albuquerque, New Mexico. All three have become proficient golfers and the Knickerbocker family for many years played a lot of “family golf.”
LaVerne and Jean were married 55 years when he passed away in 2001. The Knickerbocker family has been extended to four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Tom’s son, Erin, 17, is the No. 1 golfer on the Spackenkill High School boys’ team.
While playing at the Roscoe Twin Village Golf Club, it’s easy to spot Jean driving her Yamaha golf cart (the best looking golf cart on the course) and sporting attractive golf attire.