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Hall of Fame college writer Balicki dies at 65

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Golfweek writer Ron Balicki, who covered college and amateur golf for more than three decades, died Tuesday morning after a battle with cancer. He was 65.

Balicki was inducted into the Golf Coaches Hall of Fame in 2010, when he became the first non-coach to be enshrined. Coaches and players at last week’s ASU Thunderbird Invitational wore green ribbons in support of Balicki, who this spring would have covered his 30th consecutive NCAA Championship.

Ron BalickiIn his 2013 year-end recap for Golfweek.com, in one of the final stories of his distinguished career, Balicki wrote: “I’m still going through chemotherapy, but I have plenty of support, thoughts and prayers from so many family members, friends and co-workers, both those in our main Orlando office as well as the writers and reps I deal with on the road. There’s still a ways to go, but I’m determined to beat this thing and get back on the tournament trail as soon as I can.” 

His wife, Debbie, wrote this incredibly sweet note on Facebook on Tuesday night: “Ron lost his battle with cancer this morning. I got in bed with him and held him close while I whispered love messages that we have shared over the years. My prayer for a good death was answered. God held both of us close and surrounded us with peace, love and comfort. Thank you for all of your love. Love comes in many shapes and sizes. A casserole. A tip. A trip for medicine, a package of paper towels, a video from a co-worker, a greeting card, an email message, a phone call, an errand run, a bottle of Chocolate Bailey’s, some snickerdoodles, a load of laundry done, warm socks that fit, a prayer shawl, mopping the floor … the list of blessings is endless. Yes, my heart is broken. It is also overflowing. When Ron passed, my first prayer was a prayer of thanks to God for giving this man to love.”

When news of his passing spread on social media, the outpouring of support from came from all corners – from coaches and players, from sports-information directors and volunteers, from former colleagues and people he had never met. I was fortunate enough to work with Balicki for 2 ½ years, and his love for covering college golf was surpassed only by his passion for writing about people. 

On Tuesday night, Balicki was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter, which is a wonderful bit of irony, since @WrongRon would have had little idea what that meant. We miss you already, pal.