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Golf tourney honors Kambel's love of the game

by Seaborn Larson
| July 2, 2013 4:31 PM

Greg “Peach” Kambel, was remembered Saturday at the Kambel Scramble at the Cabinet View Golf Course, where nearly 170 family, friends and visitors honored his memory with a toast of peach Schnapps or whiskey at a fundraiser golf tournament that provides a scholarship to one Libby graduate.

This was the eighth year the tournament was held in memory of Kambel, who died at the age of 46 from a massive heart attack in 2005.

On the clubhouse patio just before the tournament began, Ryan Andreessen gave a toast in memory of Kambel, who Andreessen said always looked for the good in each person he met.

“Greg was a close part of our family,” Andreessen said. “People still call down hoping to talk to Greg about the Ford he sold them 20 years ago.”

The Kambel Scramble has raised almost $29,000 toward scholarships since Kambel’s passing. Support has come from several local businesses and individuals, as well as major whiskey company, Maker’s Mark. 

In applications for the scholarship, candidates are not asked their GPA, extracurricular activities or even their name. In appreciation of how Kambel exemplified his life, applicants are simply asked one question: “If you were told you had only one year to live, how would you live it, and what would you want to be remembered for?”

To family and close friends, he was an unconditionally loving father and husband who loved sports, particularly golf, and never had a negative word to say about anyone.

To many people in Libby, he was the voice of Libby Logger sports. Beginning as an announcer at high school football games, he was remembered with fan-favorite calls like, “Laundry on the Field!” and “A host of loggers on the tackle!”

Although the great memories of Greg Kambel are far too many to list, The Western News collected memories from Kambel’s family and friends that remember him often. 

The Nickname, “Peach”

Paul Resch, who calls himself Kambel’s closest friend, explained how a summer haircut by his parents and infamous sunburn bestowed Kambel with the nickname, “Peach.”

“As a kid, Greg had hair that was so blonde, it seemed white. He also had a head that looked just like a peach. 

“He told me that in the summer, his parents would shave his head with a No. 1 length razor. His hair was so short that it looked exactly like peach fuzz. When his head became red and sunburnt during those summer months, the nickname ‘Peach’ naturally followed him for the rest of his life.”

A Betting Man

Terry Andreessen of Timberline Auto recalled Kambel’s competitive spirit and love of sports, which were often demonstrated by schemes to get his friends to bet against him. 

“Greg loved to bet, whether it was football games, basketball games or anything else; he had to bet. 

Every Friday night we left (Timberline Auto) he would say, ‘T.A., give me give me four points on so-and-so for Sunday’s game.’

I explained to him I wouldn’t give him any points, and didn’t care whether I bet or not. I wouldn’t get out the door before Greg would think about it, quickly, and shout, ‘T.A.! T.A.! I’ll take the bet. No points.’

He couldn’t stand to not bet. And I whipped him almost every time.”

The Kambel Christmas Spirit 

Kambel’s wife, Debbie, and daughters, Missy and Brooke, fondly recalled one of their favorite stories that truly showed the character of the beloved husband and father.

“My dad knew what he was getting for Christmas, every year,” Brooke said. “He could smell the gift and know what it was.”

In 2003 Kambel was certain he would get a brand new set of Ping golf clubs. As a joke, Debbie, Missy and Brooke packaged an old used driver in a golf bag-sized box in place of the Pings. 

He stared at the box the entire day, certain as to what it was. When he opened the package, he smiled with an effort and thanked them all for the atrocity. In passive frustration, he went outside to shovel snow.

Randa Esparza, a family friend, later arrived with a gift that she claimed was for Kambel’s daughter. Further frustrating Kambel, his wife insisted that he come see the gift opened. 

When the Pings were revealed, he realized the joke and took on an entire different mood. The family laughed together at a joke that would live on in loving memory of Greg’s persistence.

“That was one way to get the shoveling done on Christmas morning,” said Debbie Kambel.   

Always a Beautiful Day

Ryan Andreessen, a family member, friend and co-worker, recalled a story that embodied Kambel’s outlook each and every day. 

“We used to play golf on Saturdays before work, and we always agreed to be there at 6:30. Greg was terrible about showing up on time. So I’d get there about 6:30, and wait for 20 minutes. Still no Greg. Soon enough, I’d see that old Ford Probe puttering up the road.

“I was so mad I’d say, ‘Where have you been? What have you been doing?’ 

“Then Greg’s charm would turn on and he’d say ‘Rawinsky, baby, relax. I was watering the flowers, it’s a beautiful day out.’”

For Kambel, it always was.