In Remembrance: Boisean sunk nine hole-in-ones and ‘never forgot what is was like to be young'

Idaho StatesmanJanuary 21, 2007 

Some golfers would envy the skill and passion Ludwig "Lou" M. Kokal of Boise had for the game. Kokal was 77 when he aimed his 6 iron at the pin and with one bounce, sunk a 170-yard hole-in-one shot on the #3-hole at a course in Paradise Valley, Ariz.

But Kokal was a modest man and took it in stride; after all, it was one of nine aces he tallied throughout his lifetime.

Kokal, 84, died Jan 10 in Boise.

Kokal initially worked as an air traffic control specialist before becoming a golf pro in his early 30s. It was during a tournament in Gooding in 1962 that he met his future wife Cecelia.

Months later, Kokal called Cecelia from a tournament in Billings, Mont. He told her how quaint the small town was and somewhat jokingly added that if only his "little Muha" were there, the two could get married.

Cecelia quickly packed a bag and drove to Big Sky Country where she surprised Kokal on the golf course. They found a judge and were married that same day.

It was a love match that lasted 45 years, more or less. The couple divorced for several months in 1964, but quickly remarried, thereafter celebrating two wedding anniversaries each year.

It seemed an unlikely match to some — Kokal, a 32-year-old confirmed bachelor and Cecelia the divorced mother of three. Certainly her children were skeptical of this very suave-looking European suitor, they said, who ultimately became a beloved father-figure to Robin, Bruce and Jerry.

Growing up, Robin Blaisdell recalled Kokal's absolute patience and even-temper although he had never been around children before. "It did take us a few years to really appreciate his qualities and they were many," she said.

It was Kokal's quiet, yet outspoken manner and old world values that made an impression on young Bruce Butler.

"He often went about muttering gibberish — well he said it was Yugoslavian but to us it was Yugoslavian gibberish," Bruce said. "Our Lou was a huge part of our lives and we will miss him tremendously."

For children initially raised on a farm, Kokal's manner was quite different, according to Jerry Butler. "Having prided himself on his carefree, footloose way of life was certainly a switch," Jerry said. "Eventually, I came to love this man like no other. He instilled special values within — his honesty and intolerance to bigotry and injustices in the world."

Granddaughter Kristen Blaisdell spent many happy hours with Kokal growing up.

"Grandpa Lou is the one guy that I always thought understood me from when I was a tiny girl. One of the best things was that he was an adult willing to play like a kid," she said. "When I got older he was always there for me. He understood many of my problems — it was like he never forgot what it was like to be young."

In Remembrance is a weekly profile on a local resident who has recently died. Contact Boise news assistant Stephanie Eddy at seddy@idahostatesman.com or 377-6481.

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