Ashland County Sports Hall of Fame
Ashland County Sports
Hall of Fame

James HilderbrandJames Hilderbrand
Nominated by Jim Nordstrom

Jim Hilderbrand was born in 1936, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He spent his early years at Willoughby On-the-Lake, Ohio. Jim was bitten by the golf bug, at the age of 12. He borrowed some old clubs from a family friend and began playing and caddying at the Lost Nation Golf Club.

Jim played football and basketball for Willoughby Union High School. Jim lettered three years each in football, basketball, and golf. In 1953, he also served as quarterback and kicker for the Greater Cleveland Conference Football Champions. He served on the Ohio District winning basketball team in 1954, and he tied as a medalist with Bob Shave, Jr. at the Ohio State High School Golf Championship that same year.

Jim was awarded a football/golf scholarship to Purdue University. He received a freshman letter in football, which was followed by a knee injury, which prevented further playing time. He received a varsity letter in golf his sophomore year and participated in NCAA Championship at Ohio State. He completed 2 1/2 years of engineering classes at Purdue.

Drafted into the US Army in 1959, Jim spent his entire enlistment at Fort Riley, Kansas. He met and married his wife, and lifetime companion, Glenda in October, 1960. Jim was hired by Kennametal Inc, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 1961 in sales management.

Jim's interest in golf started as a teen, but it grew further after his US Army discharge and employment at Kennametal. In 1963 he moved to Ashland area and joined the Ashland Country Club.

Some of Jim's golf achievements include three Ashland Country Club Championship wins in 1967, 1972 and 1973, and a Richland County Championship in 1969. Jim finished third in the 1963 Cleveland District Golf Association (CDGA) 72 Hole Medal Tournament, and won that event in 1966 and 1968. He won the CDGA Match Play Tournament in 1967 and was runner up in 1968. Jim tied for third place in 1968 for the State of Ohio Amateur title. He placed second in 1970. Jim was a Section Medalist Qualifier at USGA, in 1970 for the National Amateur Tournament in Portland, Oregon. He was also selected CDGA Player of the Year. In 1971, Jim was rated Lowest Handicap Tournament Golfer in the North Ohio area by Cleveland Golfer Magazine. He won the Champion of Champion Tourney in Crestline, Ohio in 1972, and he was second with Allison Smith Reifers in CDGA Mixed Scotch Event.

In 1972, at the encouragement of George Valentine, Jim returned to school and attended Ashland College full time, graduating with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Administration. He played on the golf team and won the NCAA College Division National Individual Championship and helped the team gain eighth place in 1972. He was selected first team NCAA All-American with that win.

Jim's other accomplishments in golf include qualifying four times for districts at the USGA Open Championship. Playing in the Alabama State Low Amateur Open in 1976. Eleventh place finish in the Pennsylvania State Amateur tournament in 1983. He qualified in 1989 for the US Senior Open and was a medalist in Richmond, Virginia. In 1991, he was selected to the Ashland University Sports Hall of Fame. He qualified for US Mid-Amateur in 1988, for the US Senior Amateur in 1992, and for the US Senior Open again in 1997. Jim was the North Carolina Senior Tour Champion in 2000, at Pinehurst. In 2009 he placed tenth in his age group at the US Senior Games Golf in San Francisco, California. He has also played in four British Amateur Championships.

In 1974 Jim moved to Birmingham, Alabama followed by moves to Houston, Texas, Greensville, Pennsylvania, Raleigh, North Carolina and finally to Pinehurst, North Carolina. Jim retired in 1999, after 38 years at Kennametal. Jim now only plays in an occasional golf tournament. He has been a member of Pinehurst Country Club since 1986.

Jim and Glenda will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this month. They have three lovely daughters; Molly H. married to Calin Pasca, and Megan Jo married to Scott May, Tracey Lyn married to Eric Fierst. Their daughters and their families live in North Carolina. Their grandchildren include Emry Fierst (senior at North Carolina State University), Logan Fierst (sophomore, East Carolina University), Dylan Fierst and Tory Fierst, Ryan and Amanda Pasca, all in high school.

Jim and Glenda are members of the Presbyterian Church, where Jim has served as a church Elder. Jim also volunteered in the North Carolina Governor sponsored teen/mentoring program and has volunteered over 400 hours in the local hospital.

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