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Oak Hills hosts annual golf tournament memorializing Chris Sifford

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Colleagues, friends and loved ones gathered at the Oak Hills Golf Center for the 13th annual “Sifford Scramble,” a golf tournament that raises money for a scholarship fund named after gubernatorial staffer Chris Sifford.

Sifford was killed in the plane crash that also took the life of Gov. Mel Carnahan and his son, Roger.

Tournament players register for the Sifford Scramble Friday morning. (Photo by Collin Reischman)
Tournament players register for the Sifford Scramble Friday morning. (Photo by Collin Reischman)

Sifford was serving as a campaign advisor at the time of his death, and had worked with the governor since 1992 in a variety of roles including press secretary, director of communications and chief of staff.

The Sifford Memorial Scholarship Foundation provides scholarships for journalism and communications students to Missouri State University — Sifford’s alma mater — and the University of Missouri. Sifford, a former journalist and a sportswriter for the Springfield News Leader, valued the skills of communication, his friends say.

Roy Temple, principal with Groundswell Public Strategies and longtime Democratic operative, sits on the board for the Sifford Memorial Scholarship Foundation, and said Sifford would have been happy with the goals of the foundation.

“He really valued journalists for the function they serve and the way they contribute to society,” Temple said. “But he also understood, from his work with the governor, the value of communications in a more broad way, and so it just seemed right to memorialize him by making sure other young people can follow in that path.”

Temple said that Sifford was universally liked, and that his reputation as a “personable and professional,” staffer made him endeared by fellow staffers, lawmakers and reporters. For many years, several Associated Press reporters who worked with Sifford during his time in the governor’s mansion played in the tournament.

Several attendee’s of the tournament noted that local reporters liked Sifford so much that they went out of their way to include his name and information in the news stories covering the death of a sitting governor and Senate candidate, Mel Carnahan.

“It’s a testament to how well people liked him,” Temple said. “Everyone enjoyed him, everyone liked to work with him; he just had that kind of energy.”

The Sifford Scramble is held every year, and the proceeds are generated both by entry fees for the tournament as well as silent auction and raffle items. All proceeds go toward funding the scholarship foundation.