In 1969, Mike Frangos, owner of the legendary Commodore restaurant in Beverly, decided to host a charity golf tournament. While today they are commonplace, fifty years ago it was unusual. For Frangos it was a way to honor his brother with developmental disables and give back to the organization that provided support for him, the Northeast Arc. He was a pioneer in building awareness for the organization at a time when there was very little.
Little did Frangos know that the event would become the longest running charitable golf tournament in the United States, celebrating 50 years on September 16, 2019, and raising more than $2.5 Million to date for the Northeast Arc.
For many years, the tournament would move around to different golf courses on the North Shore, but the day always ended with a prime rib dinner at the Commodore restaurant, where Ray McGuiggan, known as the Voice of the Commodore, would host a lively auction consisting of lobsters, snow plowing, boxes of paper towels, and any other items Mike could get donated from friends, vendors, and business associates.
In 1994, after 25 years at the helm, Frangos approached fellow Norwich University alumni, Mark Thompson, to take over as chair of the tournament and persuade him to have Boston Private Bank & Trust, where Thompson was CEO at the time, become the lead sponsor.
Thompson, who lives in Hamilton and is now President of Cambridge Trust Company, was very impressed with the event and with the mission of the Northeast Arc. As a firm believer that successful businesses need to partner with non-profits to support their important programs and services, Thompson quickly became the event’s new chair and Boston Private Bank & Trust its lead sponsor.
Under Thompson’s leadership, The Commodore Invitational Tournament became one of the Northeast Arc’s signature events. Thompson helped to accelerate fundraising efforts and corporate involvement to raise much needed funds for vital programs and services that many Massachusetts families depend on.
Based on golfer feedback, Thompson and the golf planning committee decided to make Myopia Hunt Club in South Hamilton the tournament’s permanent home. “A coveted opportunity to play a round of golf at Myopia while supporting a great cause—I think we’ve found a winning combination,” said Thompson at the time of the decision.
Another major decision came in 2009, the event’s 40th year. The Northeast Arc decided to rename the event the Mike Frangos Commodore Invitational Golf Tournament, in honor of its visionary founder who passed away in 2005.
To further honor his years of leadership and hard work, the golf committee created the Mike Frangos Award to be presented annually to someone who has been actively involved in the tournament. George Behrakis received inaugural award in 2013, followed by Carl Berry, Steve Davidson, Mark Thompson, Arthur McCarthy, and Margaret Ake.
To mark the 50thanniversary of this special event, the award will be presented posthumously to Mike Frangos. His four children are all expected to attend to accept the award on Mike’s behalf.
After the 2016 tournament, Mark Thompson felt it was time to pass the torch to a new leader. Following in Mike Frangos’ footsteps, Thompson approached Charles Brophy, President and CEO of HUB International New England, to see if he would be the event’s next chair. Brophy had participated in the event for many years and HUB International has been a very generous supporter of the Northeast Arc and the tournament. In addition, Brophy worked at the Commodore restaurant as a teenager and is a neighbor to Mike’s wife, Iris Frangos. Not surprisingly, Brophy said yes and HUB is now the event’s lead sponsor. Both Thompson and Brophy agree that Frangos would be happy to know that the event is still going strong 50 years later.
While the field of golfers may already be full, you can still support the Northeast Arc with a donation to the event. Learn more at www.ne-arc.org/golf.