ASHEBORO — Serious health issues the past few years may have taken away the ability for Tony Concutelli to play the game of golf, the game he loved so well and enjoyed incredible success in. But it never dampened his spirit.
Concutelli, one of the most successful local golfers who claimed eight Asheboro City-Am championships over three different decades, died Wednesday night at his home from a heart attack. He was 62.
“Tony was extremely outgoing and well liked by so many people,” said Chuck Welch, one of the leaders in the local golfing community and a good friend of Concutelli. “He probably loved golf more than anyone I personally know. We had a wonderful friendship and had a wonderful time together and played lots of golf together.
“There is a group of us who grew up at the golf course who were like brothers and he was one of them. Tony had a kind nature and a love for the game we all loved. But he really loved it.”
Concutelli is the only golfer to have won three straight Asheboro City-Am championships, capturing the titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. His 2002 crown was his eighth and final City-Am championship. He first claimed the title in 1987, defended that title in 1988 and then won in 1990, 1995 and 1998 before his three-peat started in 2000.
Bobby Upchurch, a three-time City-Am champ who now resides in Atlanta, spent many, many days on the golf course with Concutelli as both a partner and competitor.
The friendship began in junior high school, although they went to different middle schools, blossomed in high school as both graduated from Asheboro High School in 1978 and continued at Sandhills Community College, where both played.
“He is a great guy, one of the first guys I met when I came to Asheboro and that was 55 years ago,” Upchurch said. “He was always a big hitter who could hit it a mile. We played in a lot of events together. We played a lot in Greensboro and around Guilford County and at Pinehurst for different events. We gelled together.”
Upchurch said he will always remember the time Concutelli flew to Texas in 2005 or 2006 and partnered with Upchurch for the Member-Guest Tournament at Golfcrest Golf Club near Houston. The duo teamed for the championship.
“We were 45 years old and we beat all the young kids,” Upchurch said with a laugh. “We laughed and laughed and laughed about that. We had so much fun playing together.”
Concutelli was a diabetic and after recovering from a previous heart attack, faced a long list of health issues over the past two years. He developed congestive heart failure, which was complicated even more by his diabetes.
Concutelli was in and out of the hospital, having fluid removed and then he developed a sore on his foot. He wore a boot on his foot, but the wound continued to grow. He was diagnosed with Sepsis, the result of an infection triggering a chain reaction throughout the body.
He had his left leg amputated, and while waiting for a prosthetic, developed cellulitis in his right leg and that led to another amputation.
“His quality of life has been so bad the last two years, but he handled it with complete integrity and class,” Welch said. “I never heard him once say, ‘Why me?’ He always said it is what it is and I told him many times how proud I was of him the way he handled things. I don’t think I could ever handle it the way he did.”
Concutelli was honored this past June when Welch and the Asheboro City-Am Board elected to name the trophy given to the Senior winner of the event the Tony Concutelli Senior Trophy. Concutelli was there for the announcement.
“He knew we did that and that is the beauty of it,” Welch said.
“He always took it one step at a time,” Upchurch said. “He was amazing in that respect. It would have ruined many people. I talked to him every day and he handled things so well. I couldn’t have done what he did.”
There are many people who could never do what Concutelli did on and off the golf course. He will be missed by an entire community.
A Celebration of Life Service for Concutelli will be held Saturday, Dec. 10 at 11 a.m. at Balfour Baptist Church, 1642 North Fayetteville Street, Asheboro, with Rev. Gary Mason and Rev. Mark Wilburn officiating.