Nov. 5, 2000
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Don A. Veller, a former Florida State University football and golf coach, was honored Friday when the university renamed its Seminole Golf Course after him.
Surrounded by former players, Veller and his wife, Frances, were feted at a morning ceremony that included remarks by FSU President Sandy D’Alemberte and the unveiling of a marker bearing Veller’s likeness.
Among those at the ceremony was a man who played football for Veller as an eighth-grader in 1930s Indiana.
“That was a big surprise,” Veller said of seeing the man and so many other former players. “It was very exciting. We consider them our children.”
Veller, 88, has given generously to FSU athletics over the years, including an estate gift of well over a million dollars, according to Charlie Carr, an associate athletics director.
“He’s been synonymous with golf and certainly Florida State athletics for well over 50 years,” Carr said. “He and his wife have been awfully generous after their retirement, not only giving back from a financial standpoint, but being very much a visible part of the program.”
After playing and coaching in Indiana, Veller came to FSU in 1948 as the university’s first full-time head football coach. The following year, he led the Seminole team to its first bowl game. In 1950, he led the team to its first undefeated season. He retired with the second-best winning percentage (.716) in school history.
He then switched gears, becoming the men’s golf coach from 1953 until his retirement in 1982. Veller led the team to its first undefeated season in 1957 and even earned his own letters as a member of the team in the mid-1950s.
During his long tenure as head golf coach, Veller tutored future professional stars such as Paul Azinger, Jeff Sluman and Hubert Green.
Veller also has penned golf columns for the Tallahassee Democrat for 40 years and recently published a volume of humorous golf poems called “Fluffs, Muffs and Really Deep Rough.”
Friday’s ceremony was held in the cart barn, as work has begun on a $4.5 million, 25,000 square foot complex that will house the FSU men’s and women’s golf teams and the school’s new Professional Golf Management program.
The ceremony was followed by the 2000 Seminole Gathering golf tournament, a fund-raiser for the university’s golf programs, and an afternoon awards ceremony.
By JEFF BURLEW