1989 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"The enduring success of relationships is the ultimate measure of success in life."
The son of a car salesman, Robert Dedman was born in Rison, Arkansas. His father drifted from job to job looking for opportunities that always seemed to elude him. When he was 14, tough times forced Dedman's parents to send him and a younger brother to live with a widowed aunt in Dallas. Dedman once said that his parents and the hard times they went through shaped his life. "Poverty encouraged me to want to do something with my life and a positive mental attitude made me feel like I could achieve it."
In high school, Dedman was an able scholar. He was also an outstanding athlete and won a baseball scholarship to college. He won a second scholarship when he was named Most Outstanding Speaker in the Nation by the National Student Congress. But Dedman did not accept either scholarship. Instead, in 1944, he joined the U. S. Navy. He enrolled in the Navy's program at the University of Texas at Austin, which allowed him to earn a degree in engineering during his two years in the Navy. In the next two years, he took degrees in economics and law at Southern Methodist University (SMU), while working full time selling insurance and real estate.
A founding partner in the Dallas law firm of Shank, Dedman & Payne, he soon became personal counsel to the legendary oil billionaire H. L. Hunt. While still practicing law, he visited Palm Springs and became intrigued by the way in which a country club can increase real estate values in the immediate area. He returned to Dallas and bought 400 acres on which he built Brookhaven Country Club in 1957. He founded Country Clubs Incorporated and launched a business that would eventually crown him King of the Country Clubs by The New York Times. Today, Dedman's ClubCorp International owns and operates some 250 private city, country, and athletic clubs, as well as resorts and real estate developments including the Pinehurst Hotel and Club in North Carolina, the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, the City Club of Washington, D. C., and the Atrium Club in New York City.
Robert Dedman's philanthropic work created the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports at his alma mater, SMU, where the liberal arts college was named Dedman College with an endowment he established in 1981. He also contributed to scholarships at the University of Texas at Austin and made large donations to the Dedman Memorial Hospital and the Dedman Medical Center in Dallas.* Deceased