James "Jim" Hadley Jempson

Obituary of James "Jim" Hadley Jempson

April 29, 1948 - Calgary, Alberta

January 13, 2024 - Calgary, Alberta


Jim, beloved husband of Shelley, suddenly yet peacefully passed away at the age of 75 surrounded by his loving family.


Jim was a loyal and proud husband, father, papa, son, brother, uncle, and friend. He was a legend and mentor in the golf industry and a cheerleader to us all in life and sport.


Jim leaves behind a community that has been profoundly impacted by his guidance, wisdom, and compassion. His genuine care for others has forever shaped the lives of those fortunate enough to have known him.


Born in Calgary in 1948 in the community of Parkhill, Jim’s passion for sports began at an early age. His dad, Jimmy, was a professional hockey player and he was determined to follow in his footsteps.  


After graduating from Viscount Bennett in 1966, Jim worked for Bud Loftus as a caddy at the Calgary Golf & Country Club, where he fell in love with the property. After two years at the club, he changed sports and moved to BC where he played hockey for the Nelson Maple Leafs. Jim was proud to tell anyone who would listen that he was part of the 1968 Cyclone Taylor Cup Championship Team.


In 1970, Jim was offered and accepted a hockey scholarship at Bemidji State University in Minnesota, where he was also a member of the golf team. After coming to the realization that he wasn’t going to make the NHL, Jim told us it was time to make a life decision, either audition for Slap Shot 2 with Paul Newman and the Hanson Brothers or “Get on with Life”. He chose to get on with life and what a life it was!!


After moving back to Calgary with no money and no job, Jim returned to a familiar place to look for work, Willow Park Golf & Country Club. His parents were original members there, and Jim grew up playing Junior and Intermediate golf at the club. Head Pro Bill Quilley hired him in April of 1971. Jim said he turned in his hockey stick and skates for a re-spike wrench, a shag bag to hand pick balls on the range, and a wet towel to clean clubs! By the end of June, he was the only Pro Shop employee left and his probationary apprenticeship was in full swing resulting in a career that spanned over 50 years. 


His passion for golf led him to the Royal Mayfair Golf and Country Club in Edmonton under the leadership of Derek and Irene Gibson. Jim then accepted his first head professional job at Sturgeon Valley. While in Edmonton, Jim and Shelley got together and eventually purchased a home in St. Albert. According to Jim, her contribution was the down payment and three children, his contribution was the mortgage payment and three used cars! 


In 1982, Willow Park Golf & Country Club came calling! Jim was offered and accepted the Head Professional position. Shelley joined Jim in the Pro Shop which was the best move for “me and us” according to Jim. As independent concessionaires, the dynamic duo in life and business were recognized with numerous awards for their talent in merchandising and sales. Jim has been the recipient of some notable awards and competitions including the 1976 PGA of Alberta Championship, 1997 PGA Club Professional of the Year, and 2003 PGA of Alberta Merchandiser of the Year. Most recently, Jim was recognized as the fourth member to receive the PGA of Alberta Lifetime Achievement Award in the Leadership Pillar. Jim was also very proud to be a life member of the PGA of Canada. Over his storied career, Jim had the opportunity to play with legends, including Moe Norman, George Knudson, Stan Leonard, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Bob Charles, and the great Arnold Palmer.


Jim was also a philanthropist at heart and during his lifetime, he and Shelley contributed personally to numerous charities. The one that held a special place in his heart was the Willow Park Charity Classic.  It all began in 1988 with a simple conversation, a glass (or two) of scotch, and notes on a napkin between Jim and Willow Park owner, Amos Carpenter. Together that day they created something very special. To date, the tournament has donated over 12.7 million dollars to various Calgary Charities.


Jim was “guilty” of sending out handwritten letters of congratulations and encouragement to award winners and new head professionals. He encouraged them to be faithful to their profession and pass on their skills to those that follow. Jim encouraged them to make a difference in their pursuit of golf excellence.


Outside of golf, Jim and Shelley loved to travel with trips to Bermuda, Florida, Palm Springs, Arizona, California, Cook Islands, Scotland, England, and Wales, just to name a few. Maui was their special place, where for over 30 years they enjoyed fun in the sun with their family and friends.


In retirement, Jim and Shelley spent many days travelling around Alberta, watching their grandsons play hockey and lacrosse. Jim always said he was on a personal mission to find the perfect arena hot dog!


"To the world he was a man, to us he was the world”


Jim is survived by his loving wife Shelley, his faithful fur buddy Oakley, his children, Kim Carrington (Joanne Johnson), Martin Carrington, Tanya and Trevor Forbes; grandsons, Cody and Cale; sister Ismay Seyer, sister-in-law Laurie Martin, as well as numerous loving nieces and nephews. Jim was predeceased by his mother Ismay and his father Jim.


A Celebration of Jim’s Life will be held at a later date.


We are grateful to the incredible team of doctors and nurses at the Rockyview Hospital Coronary Care Unit for the kindness and compassion given to Jim and our family during the short time he was in their care.


In lieu of flowers, memorial tributes can be made to the Rockyview General Hospital Coronary Care Unit, the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Alberta, 200, 119 – 14th Street N.W., Calgary, AB T2N 1Z6 Telephone: (403) 264-5549, www.heartandstroke.ca, or to the Canadian Cancer Society, 200 – 325 Manning Rd. N.E., Calgary, AB T2E 2P5 Telephone: (403) 205-3966, https://cancer.ca/en/.


Condolences, memories, and photos may be shared and viewed with Jim's family here.


In living memory of Jim Jempson, a tree will be planted in the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area by McInnis and Holloway Funeral Homes, Park Memorial, 5008 Elbow Drive SW, Calgary, AB T2S 2L5, Telephone: 403-243-8200.

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James "Jim" Hadley