Arnold Palmer Dies at 87
On September 25, 2016, golfing legend Arnold Palmer passed away. The longtime golf champion was 87 years old. He died while waiting for a heart transplant at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Palmer was admitted three days prior complaining of heart pains.
On Thursday, September 29, Palmer’s ashes were laid to rest in his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where a private funeral service was held for friends and family. The ashes were taken in a plane and spread over his favorite golf course at Latrobe Country Club. His ashes took one last flight over his hometown.
But something startling happened the day of his funeral. The day started cloudy and stormy but gave way to sunshine. In between the misty rain and the sun came a rainbow. The brilliant rainbow spanned the entire sky and was visible to all. It seemed that Arnold Palmer was saying goodbye to everybody that attended the funeral.
But it wasn’t just the people who knew him dearly that mourned his passing. At the time of his death, the Ryder Cup was taking place. The competition pits American golfers versus British golfers for rights to the cup. The usually upbeat and intense competition took on a much more somber tone as news of the passing spread.
Arnold Palmer himself was a part of six Ryder Cup championships for the American side. His 22 victories during the Ryder Cup competition still stands as a record. The history of all this was not lost at the golfers of the competition. Some of the golfers remarked that they would use his passing as inspiration for performing better while others simply expressed sadness.
Palmer was a legend that transcended his sport. His effervescent personality brought the game to life during the television era when he won seven major championships in the 1950s and 60s. Without Arnold Palmer, golf might not be as big as a sport as it is today.
Palmer continued to be an ambassador for the game long after his heyday. He continued to compete on the senior circuit and took on the immense challenge of popularizing the game with every generation. The consensus within golf circles is that he succeeded incredibly well.
But Arnold Palmer’s life extended farther than golf. He was an avid pilot, keeping a pilot’s license for 50 years of his life. In fact, his prowess in the air inspired the town of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to name its airport after him — The Arnold Palmer Regional Airport.
His fear of flying is what inspired him to get his pilot’s license. This kind of take the bull-by-the-horns attitude is what made him so famous throughout the world. He racked up over 20,000 hours of flying experience to achieve his pilot’s license despite his crippling fear.
And he never strayed far from home. He was married to his first wife for 45 years until she died of ovarian cancer. They made their home in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and he never left. This down to earth legend will be missed.