Eldon is 83 not out
Eldon Raynor wants one thing for his birthday — a round of golf with friends. “If anyone brings presents on April 29 they’ll go home with them,” he said.
The 83-year-old loves the sport so much he built an 18-hole putting course in his backyard.
About 150 people have turned up to play on his birthday, for the past six years.
It is preparation for his frequent golf tournaments: he and his buddy, Winston Trott, are often the oldest people playing.
“And out of 60 or 70 people we usually place in the top 15,” Mr Raynor said.
He grew up on Middle Road in Southampton, playing sports of all kinds with 12 brothers. He was the middle child.
His father Edwin was a carriage driver, and his mother Gladys was a homemaker.
“My father used to joke that things were cheaper by the dozen,” said Mr Raynor. “The only thing was, we only had one bathroom.”
Despite his fascination with golf, he’s still best known for cricket.
So many brothers, uncles and cousins played for Southampton Rangers that people jokingly called it the Southampton Raynors’ Club.
At 20, he tried out for the Somerset Cup Match team but did not get in. In 1958, St George’s took him on. He played with the team for 21 years.
“Cricket was in the family,” he said. “It was a long way to go every day on my bike, but I never regretted playing for St George’s. I played with W.F. “Chummy” Hayward. He was one of the good guys. I learnt a lot from him in terms of cricket and business.
“When I finished I had 738 Cup Match runs under my belt, that was the fifth highest number of runs at that time.”
He retired from the game in 1979 after a cricket ball hit him in the eye, dead-on.
“Cup Match was in Somerset that year,” he said. “I had to go to the hospital. There were no lasting injuries. It was a hard decision to give it up, but when you get older there are just some things you can’t do anymore.”
He married his wife, Barbara, on August 4, 1960, shortly after his third Cup Match.
“I was playing football with a friend, and he said he knew a girl that wanted to meet me,” said Mr Raynor.
They went to her house and the friend walked off to find her sister. Mr Raynor walked into the kitchen.
“Barbara was still in her pyjamas,” he said. “She was so embarrassed she got under the kitchen table. I just got under there with her and talked.”
That night they went to the movies.
She had just won a two-year teaching scholarship to study in Canada. He waited until her studies were almost over before proposing.
“I don’t have any regrets,” he said. “She is a beautiful person.”
The couple have two children.
Wanda lives in the US, where she sings under the name Wanda Ray Willis. Eldon Jr, who also sings, runs Raynors’ Trucking here.
“My father was wrong,” Mr Raynor joked. “It’s cheaper raising children in twos.”
He coached a number of youngsters in cricket, including Janeiro Tucker. He often helps young cricketers pay for their sports gear.
In honour of his late mother Gladys, he gives $100 to people celebrating their 100th birthday.
“She lived to be 96,” said Mr Raynor. “She really wanted to see 100.”
Business has kept him busy over the years. He had his hand in F & S Well Drilling Service, E & C Well Drilling Service and the International Sports Shop Ltd. Now he and his wife run 14 holiday apartments.
“I am trying to retire, but I don’t know how,” he said.
He also loves puttering in his garden. Sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes and carrots are among his crops. He designed a special system that pipes water from a nearby roadway into rain barrels.
Last month he won the Progressive Labour Party Drum Major award.
“I was very pleased to win that,” he said. “My son read off a bit about me and also sang at the event. I was surprised. There are so many people who have done things in their lives.
“I am also proud that I am almost 84 and still pretty fit.”
In terms of cricket, it is his behaviour he boasts about, not all the runs. “I’ve never liked to lose but I never showed that on the field. I always shook the hand of the winner.
“Nowadays you see a lot of guys throwing their bats all over the place. I am not that kind of person.”
• Lifestyle profiles senior citizens in the community every Tuesday. To suggest an outstanding senior contact Jessie Moniz Hardy: 278-0150 or email@example.com. Have on hand the senior’s full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them
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