In Memory of Tom Oxley

by Bernard McCormick Wednesday, December 23, 2009 No Comment(s)

Bob Griese was able to announce a Rose Bowl game in which his son Brian starred without mentioning any connection to the young quarterback. But that was not Tom Oxley’s style. When working the public address at Royal Palm Polo in Boca Raton it wasn’t unusual for him to blurt out things such as “Look at my brother Jack ride!” or spot somebody in the crowd and shout “There’s my friend from Gold Coast Magazine, folks, give him a hand.”


Oxley, who died last week, had a style of his own and for years he was a highly entertaining voice of polo at Royal Palm. His bubbling, sometimes inarticulate enthusiasm added to the excitement of the sport. He was also manager of the polo club. Later he became a great supporter of Florida Atlantic University. The Oxley Center at FAU bears his name after he made a major contribution to build it.


Tom Oxley came from a wealthy Oklahoma oil family. His whole family played polo and at one time he was one of the top young players in the country. That was before a fall with a horse almost killed him the late 1960s. He was in a coma for a month. His recovery was considered a near miracle. He was an early recipient of patterning, in which paralyzed people are neurologically retrained.


He never played polo again, although he did get back on a horse. Doctors considered it too risky for a man who spent the rest of his life with a slight limp and somewhat slurred speech. It never stopped him from enjoying sports and life in general. A few years ago this magazine wanted to photograph him for a story on FAU. A regular at Fort Lauderdale’s Mai-Kai, Oxley insisted on posing between two Mai-Kai beauties. He and his family will be remembered for sustaining polo in South Florida for decades, and for his generous support of a local university.


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