Before the holidays, friends and family of Reading native, John Edward Hoyt gathered at the Hillview Golf Club, 149 North St., North Reading, to dedicate a bench by the putting green in his honor and to celebrate his love of sports, country, community, and family. The son of Reading’s Sally Hoyt and the late Brendan Hoyt, John passed away suddenly in 2019 at his winter home in Florida.
A lifelong resident of Reading who endured heart surgery as a child, John was a gifted athlete, lettering in Football and Baseball, and was inducted in 1965 and 1966 to the MA Athletic Hall of Fame and the RMHS Athletic Hall of Fame. While in high school, Jack volunteered as a caddy at Hillview where he learned the game of golf, leading to a lifetime of competitions and tournaments along the East Coast and Florida.
After his graduation from Reading Memorial High School in 1966, John joined the Army as a Paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division, serving two tours of duty in Vietnam, and was awarded four distinguished Military Medals of Honor by the US Government for outstanding service to his country, including the Army Commendation Medal (ARCOM) for consistent acts of heroism and meritorious service and the Bronze Star for Valor and heroic service in a combat zone. In civilian life, John attended Graham College in Business and Broadcasting and built a life around golf in Florida and Massachusetts.
At the bench dedication, Chris Carter, PGA Golf Pro at Hillview, explained that John appreciated how golf enriches lives and the importance of getting outside to gain perspective and think about life and nature. Jack played at all the club championships and often photographed golf events.
Bruce Tarr (State Senator, 1st Essex and Middlesex District) spoke about how Jack started out as a volunteer caddy at the Hillview and then served his country as a paratrooper. Sen.Tarr’s father became a caddy at about 8 years old on the Bass Rocks Golf Course in Gloucester and worked there until he joined the military in a different wartime era but followed a similar path. Sen. Tarr referred to Jack as a “citizen soldier” who loved doing what he did in life, served our country, and then returned to engage in other services that he loved, always making sure the Hillview was a place where we could think about our own self-improvement and enjoy the wonderful natural resources around us. Sen. Tarr expressed hope that those waiting by the bench for their turn on the putting green will consider the legacy of Jack Hoyt as a great citizen soldier and think about how wonderful life is and how wonderful golf is.
State Representative Brad Jones (20th Middlesex District) noted as a bitter wind blew across the greens, that those gathered had “cold hands but warm hearts” remembering Jack’s accomplishments. He recognized Jack’s mother Sally also as a faithful servant to family, community, and the Commonwealth. Rep. Jones emphasized that it was important to recognize veterans not just on Veteran’s Day and it was an honor to be there with Sally, her family, and friends to dedicate this bench to her son Jack.
State Rep. Rich Haggerty (30th Middlesex District) spoke about service as well, saying that when people come home from serving in the military, they often spend the rest of their lives serving their communities. He noted that it was important to always recognize our veterans but it is special when people have an opportunity to see, feel, and touch a memory of someone’s life in their community. Rep. Haggerty thanked Jack for his service to his country, the two tours in Vietnam, and his heroism.
Founding member of the Hillview Commission (1987) George Stack recalled first meeting Jack who worked in various capacities at the club over the years. Often they would run into each other at the Pro Shop where Jack would explain he was “home to visit Mom.” George and Jack went on to play and win many tournaments and George “didn’t mind being the caboose on Jack’s engine.” Jack had a passion for golf and was always practicing and always telling people how to do better. George remembered that Jack even developed his own “contraption on a stick” to repair ball marks on the greens without having to bend over… That invention and helping people was Jack’s joy and gave him pride and satisfaction.…
George said “Jack was a great guy. I appreciated Jack. He was good company…What more do you want out of life than to be with someone who is good company?… Years from now, people will be sitting here, see the brass plaque with his name and the Bronze Star, look out over the greens …and think of Jack.”