Rackets

Edward F. Ulmann 1942-2013

07 May 2013

Sadly Eddie Ulmann, the most generous host to countless Englishmen, Rackets players young and old, in New York City and London over the past 50 years, has passed away after a long debilitating illness. He was eight times United States Amateur Rackets Doubles Champion carrying variously William Surtees and Willie Boone as his partner�..an imperious volleyer on the court and Raconteur off it�..all in the most elegant and gentlemanly manner.


EFU passed away last Friday after a long battle with cancer. It is most fitting that we should all honor his memory on this Finals Day at the Club. EFU was truly an iconic figure. Well-bred, educated at Exeter and Columbia University, a man of the world, a firm believer in tradition, a loving husband and father, and a proud member of many clubs – foremost among them the Racquet & Tennis Club in New York. He joined the Club very soon after graduation from college and was active for almost half a century in various positions on the Board and on select committees. He loved the Club and walked its hallways and rooms with a continuing sense of awe at the splendid architectonic features and a reverence for the hallowed history of one of America’s finest gentlemen’s clubs. He never tired of the wonderful camaraderie that the Club engendered in its membership and among its athletes.

EFU’s contributions to the Club and its fabulous inventory of sporting books and memorabilia were numerous. He had a refined sense of and veneration for the English language. He was a true Anglophile in every sense of the word and revered the British classical education that is now but a distant memory in academia. He spoke perfect French and was often heard reciting quotations in classical Latin and Greek. When he spoke, when he put together crisp sentences during conversation, and when he wrote his brilliant articles and edited various books, he expressed things with such flourish. In today’s world of sloppily written commentary, EFU stood out for his clarity and etymological sense. He was one of the most erudite people of his generation – with a knowledge that spanned literature, the arts, history and poetry. Known for his sartorial splendor, he always looked dapper and sophisticated no matter what the venue.

In the realm of sports, EFU reached the highest level of accomplishment in the game of racquets – where he won some 9 National Amateur Racquets Doubles Championships with such world champions as Willie Surtees and Willy Boone, never mind the myriad Club championships over 4 decades. He was the prime mover in maintaining alive the game of racquets in the U.S. and always considered it the “game of all games”. He participated actively in the evolution of the North American Racquets Association (NARA). A perennial visitor to all the cities that hosted racquets tournaments, EFU was unequalled in both his enthusiasm for the competition and in his involvement in the socializing aspects of those tournaments. There was no better speaker at Stag Dinners, and his repertoire of ribald jokes has not been matched since he stepped aside from participating in or running tournaments. His acerbic sense of humor was contagious, and there was always a turn of the phrase that added uncommon meaning to the mundane. The “esprit de corps” of the world of racquets was something that he treasured until the end. He was the epitome of a man’s man – yet so very charming with the opposite sex.

EFU was a unique individual – someone who clung stubbornly to the mores and customs of the past. Speaking of the interview process for new members, he proudly declared that all HE needed to do to approve of someone was ride up the elevator with a candidate and see how he was dressed and whether his shoes were properly shined. He will long be remembered by the many close friends at the Club that he cultivated over the years. For all of them, and for the membership at large, his passing leaves a void that will not be easily filled.


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