On Friday, February 24, LPGA Hall-of-Famer Judy Rankin lost her husband of 45 years, Walter "Yippy" Rankin, to cancer. Yippy Rankin was laid to rest on Monday, and the burial was followed by a "Celebration of Life" ceremony attended by family and friends at the First United Methodist Church in Rankin's hometown of Midland, Texas.
Judy Rankin gets a kiss from her husband, Yippy, after winning the LPGA $100,000 tournament at the North Hills Country Club in Manhasset, N.Y., Aug. 13, 1978. (AP Photo/Dave Pickoff)
Yippy was well-known among women's golf fans for his lifelong support of the LPGA Tour and of his wife, who followed up a winning playing career (she earned 26 LPGA titles between 1962 and 1979) with becoming the first female commentator of male golf television broadcasts (she has been working in TV since the early '80s). She is also a two-time U.S. Solheim Cup captain and a longtime professional advisor to Golf Digest.
Yippy's obituary in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal describes the Rankins' special relationship:
"They shared in her career and were fortunate to make many friends and travel the world. They were fortunate to also experience some great moments in sports. One of the great joys in his life was his son, Tuey. Supporting his athletic and life endeavors was of the utmost importance to him. As a young man, he coached numerous youth sports teams and has continued to support young people in athletics in other ways. He passionately loved his family, friends, and all of the dogs that warmed and shared his life."
In her Golf Digest "My Shot" article from 2004 (by Guy Yocom), Judy talked about how the two met and married:
"I met Yippy Rankin at a pro-am when I was 20. We knew each other for only three weeks before we got married. I wouldn't say we eloped, but we did get married in Juarez, Mexico. If we'd gotten married in El Paso, we would have had to wait three days for the blood test to come back. That was too long for us -- I was between tournaments."
In addition to his wife, Rankin is survived by his son Tuey, daughter-in-law Jennifer, grandchildren Kendall Anne and Tripp, a brother and a sister.
*--Stina Sternberg *