Francis X. (Frank) Emmet, the founder and only director of the Washington area's now-extensive junior golf program, died yesterday at Sibley Memorial Hospital. Mr. Emmet, 82, had suffered a massive stroke there Monday a few hours after undergoing surgery to remove gall bladder stones.
The stroke occurred 55 years to the day after Mr. Emmet invited all the high schools and prep schools within 200 miles of Washington to compete in golf on the nine-hole course he had built the previous year at Georgetown Preparatory School. He was the school's business manager and his uncle, the Rev. Thomas A. Emmet, was the school's president.
That was the beginning of the Junior Golfers of Washington, whose motto is "Off The Streets and On The Fairways." Now, there is a junior event scheduled almost daily from the end of the school year until Labor Day. His most famous graduate still associated primarily with golf is Deane Beman, former U.S. and British Amateur champion and currently the commissioner of the PGA Tour.
Many junior golf programs around the country are patterned after Mr. Emmet's. He called Georgetown Prep "the cradle of junior golf in America," and kept scrapbooks of newspaper clippings about his events and his players.
Mr. Emmet, who lived in Chevy Chase, was known to his junior golfers as a kindly but authoritative man. A youngster once showed up for a match wearing cutoff jeans. Mr. Emmet sent him home to change. He said he was not preparing youngsters for the golf tour, but for life.
He also showed compassion. He would never embarrass one of his young golfers. At one of his more prestigious tournaments, Mr. Emmet introduced each player on the first tee, giving either his country club or his golf accomplishments. When he got to one player who had no club affilation nor golf credits, Mr. Emmet simply introduced him as " . . . from the University of Hawaii."
Directing the junior golfers was Mr. Emmet's avocation. He earned a living with three jobs during that time--as business manager at Prep, as a special investigator for the Department of Justice and for the past 35 years as a wholesale paper products salesman for Cantwell-Cleary Co.
Mr. Emmet started playing golf in high school in Boston and played until the mid-1970s. At one time he had an 8 handicap.
In March, the PGA Tour honored Mr. Emmet with its Card Walker Award for contributions to junior golf nationally. Mr. Emmet was a permanent member of the U.S. Golf Association's Junior Boys' Committee and attended the national tournament annually.
Mr. Emmet was born in Boston and was a 1924 graduate of Boston College. He came to Washington the next year at the urging of his uncle. While in Boston, Mr. Emmet also ran track and played center field on a semipro baseball team.
To his neighbors in Chevy Chase, he was known as The Mayor of Williams Lane and led the street's annual July 4th parade.
He is survived by Irene, his wife of 57 years, three sons, two daughters and 17 grandchildren.