Bernard “Tut” Bartzen, longtime TCU tennis coach, dies at 91

Tut Bartzen 1977

Bernard James “Tut” Bartzen, 91

“It’s impossible to put into words what Coach Bartzen has meant to TCU Tennis, the Fort Wort community, Colonial Country Club, Texas Tennis and USA Tennis,” said TCU Men’s Tennis Coach David Roditi. “He and his wife, Sara, together with the Friedman family, had a vision. They built the beautiful tennis center and instilled a championship culture at TCU. We wouldn’t have what we have today, if it wasn’t for the work of Coach Bartzen. It would be hard to find a tennis family in Fort Worth that wasn’t touched by the leadership, mentoring and passion of Coach Tut. For me, personally, he was like a father. He was a mentor. He taught me discipline. He taught me right from wrong and how to be the best person I could be. He was a great role model, father and family man. He was one of the most humble human beings that I’ve ever been around. Everything he ever accomplished was deserved because he worked for it and earned it. As humble and full of integrity as he was, he was also one of the most competitive people that I’ve ever met and I love that about him. One of my main goals when I became a coach at TCU was to get the program back to where he had it. More than making the fans and alumni proud, I wanted to make him proud. And I’d like to think that he was. I’m so grateful to have spent so much time with him. I’m sad to have him leave but he gets to be with his wife now. He lived a beautiful, clean and spiritual life. He will be very missed around TCU.”

Obituary from Thompson’s Harveson & Cole Funeral Home.

Vigil: 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, 2019 at Thompson’s Harveson & Cole Funeral Home.

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Mass of Christian Burial: 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at St. Andrew Catholic Church.

Interment: Greenwood Memorial Park. There will be a reception immediately following the graveside service on the indoor tennis courts at the Bayard Friedman Tennis Center on the TCU campus.

Memorials: In lieu of flowers, donations to the Tut Bartzen Scholarship Fund may be made through the TCU Athletic Department.

• Obituary

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Bernard James “Tut” Bartzen, 91, passed away peacefully Wednesday, July 10, 2019, 19 years to the day after his beloved wife, Sara Jane Ledbetter.

Tut was born in Austin. At the age of 5, Tut’s family moved to San Angelo. It was here, that Tut met his mentor and lifelong tennis coach, George Richey. He honed his tennis skills hitting against a wall endless hours. In 1945 Tut boarded a train and headed off to William & Mary becoming the consummate student athlete. Tut graduated in only 3 years while remaining undefeated in over 50 matches and capturing two NCAA team championships. While at William and Mary, Tut was on what is considered by many to be one of the top 10 collegiate tennis teams of all time and in 1948, Tut and his partner won an NCAA Doubles Championship.

Less than a year after beginning a lifelong relationship with Wilson Sporting Goods as a salesman and later as a member of the Wilson Advisory Staff, Tut was drafted in 1952 at the beginning of the Korean War. Despite believing he was to be shipped out at any time, Tut was permitted to play tennis and compete in Davis Cup and Grand Slam tournaments. Tut went on to win the U.S. National Clay Court Championships four times and had a Davis Cup record of 15-0 in singles and 1-0 in doubles. Tut’s 16-0 Davis Cup record represents the greatest number of wins by a Davis Cup player in history without a defeat. He was the Davis Cup Captain in 1961. Tut was ranked among the top 10 in the U.S. from 1953 to 1961.

After his playing days, Tut settled in as the Head Tennis Professional at Colonial Country Club for 12 years before taking on the role as Head Coach of the Texas Christian University Men’s tennis team from 1974-1998. At TCU, his teams were ranked nationally 19 times during a 20 year stretch, won over 500 matches, won eight conference championships and reached the final 4 once.

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Tut was inducted into the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame, the ITA Collegiate Hall of Fame, TCU Hall of Fame and was only the fourth tennis player inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. He was also only the third tennis player inducted into the Wilson Sports Hall of Fame.

Despite all the success Coach Tut Bartzen had on the tennis courts, he was never impressed with his on-court achievements. His greatest victory was winning the heart of, and marrying, Sara Jane Ledbetter in 1955. Tut was a devoted husband of 45 years prior to Sara’s passing in 2000. He was most proud of his four children and their families as they matured and had families of their own. Tut is widely recognized as an unselfish, caring man. His players remember him as a principled man who taught them how to compete with integrity. He was more than a coach to many, but also a mentor and father figure. He will be remembered and missed by all who were lucky enough to have met Tut.

Tut’s passing was preceded by his brother, Arthurleigh Bartzen (wife, Shirley), brother-in-law, A.C. Crutchfield (wife, Katherine) and daughter-in-law, Debbie Bartzen (husband, Fred).

Survivors: Tut is survived by his 4 children, 8 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren and his 3 sisters-in-law: son, Tut Jr. and his wife, Mary-Hunter and their child, Sara of Richmond, VA.; daughter, Angela Allin and her husband, Jim, of Dallas, TX and their children, Alexandra DeHoff, her husband, Allan, and their daughter, Pearl Millie; Timothy and his wife, Fei Fei, and their son, TJ; Amy Gastorf and her husband, Nick; son, Fred Bartzen of McKinney, TX and his children, Charley, Cameron and his wife, Morgan Hopson, Cortland, and Margaux; son, Thomas Andrew and his wife, Heather, of Anna, TX; sister-in-law Shirley Bartzen of St. Louis, MO, sister-in-law, Katherine Crutchfield of Oklahoma City, OK, sister-in-law, Sylvia Monk and her husband, Jim, of Oklahoma City, OK.