Friends find way to honor slain golfer

Organizers hope tournament at South River will raise up to $20,000 for charity in memory of banker fatally shot last fall

May 14, 2006|By BRADLEY OLSON | BRADLEY OLSON,SUN REPORTER

Ernesto Morez had to find some way to make it right, or at least to make it better.

His friend Kenny Kertesz, a mortgage banker in Edgewater who was widely admired for his generosity, had just been shot and killed in a seemingly senseless attack.

Driving to the wake a few days later, Morez and another friend came up with an idea.

"I just kept thinking, `This can't be it,' especially the way it happened, so suddenly," Morez said. "So we thought of holding a golf tournament in his memory."

Kertesz, a lifelong bachelor, had been an avid golfer with a 3-handicap who loved to travel to various famous courses, such as Pebble Beach in California.

Together with his parents and a few friends, Morez established a charitable foundation and organized the KBK Memorial Golf Classic, a tournament Friday at the South River Golf Course in Edgewater that is sold out with 36 teams of four.

When the tournament is over, friends will gather at BF Biggins Bar & Grill off West Street in Annapolis from about 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Robert Kertesz, Kenny's father, said the tournament is expected to raise between $10,000 and $20,000 for prostate cancer research in affiliation with "Arnie's Army," the cancer foundation of golf great Arnold Palmer.

Robert Kertesz last saw his son alive on a drizzly Friday afternoon in early October. Kenny Kertesz had just taken his parents to the 8,000-square-foot home he had just bought at South River Colony.

The 43-year-old Kertesz told his father that this was the home where he would raise his family and spend the rest of his life. He hugged and kissed his parents and returned to work at Universal Mortgage and Finance, running a little late.

That afternoon, Michael Wayne Baxter Jr. walked into the office complex and fatally shot Kertesz and wounded a friend of Kertesz who was visiting. In a nearby parking lot, Baxter, 30, took his own life a short time later.

Police and friends said Baxter mistakenly believed that Kertesz was having a relationship with his girlfriend.

Co-workers of Kertesz were shocked and saddened by his death. The grief has left a lasting impact on his close friends and family, many whom can barely speak of him without losing composure.

Morez, who went to high school with Kertesz in Fort Washington, initially suggested donating the funds from the tournament to victims of violent crime, but later realized that that would mean reliving the story of his friend's death year after year.

The meetings to organize the tournament and the foundation have helped Kertesz's loved ones cope together, Morez said, although many are still suffering.

"He had a legacy," he said, crying. "I mean, there are bad days, but I think it's kind of brought us together. We still miss him."

Robert Kertesz, of Charles County, has kept his son's cell phone so he could hear his voice every now and then. He loves to get together with people to talk about his son and all that he did for people, such as training friends in mortgage banking.

"He touched the lives of many, many people," Kertesz said.

Robert Kertesz said he has been overwhelmed by how many people wanted to be involved in the tournament. Next year, he and Morez hope to expand the tournament to a second course and to hold a few poker tournaments to finance it.

"We are coping," Kertesz said. "We are doing the best we can, and are still very much involved, and would like to see that other people remember him, everyone from complete strangers to people whose lives he's touched."

bradley.olson@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.