Arnold Palmer's Wife Dies


Winnie Palmer, the wife of golf great Arnold Palmer, died Saturday after a long illness at 65.

Mrs. Palmer spent the last few weeks at the family's home in Latrobe, about 35 miles east of Pittsburgh. Her family said the cause of death was a malignant tumor in the abdomen lining.

Arnold Palmer, who had prostate cancer surgery in 1997, disclosed his wife's condition in October 1998 during a dinner for cancer survivors in Pittsburgh. Her illness had been described previously as ovarian cancer.

Greg Norman, who once lived near the Palmers' winter home at Bay Hill in Orlando, Fla., described Mrs. Palmer as a "phenomenal woman."

Norman, speaking from Japan where he was playing in the Dunlop Phoenix Open, said her quiet battle with cancer demonstrated that "she didn't want anyone to fuss over her, which is an indication of the type of woman she is."

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said "all of golf is the poorer for Winnie's passing. Our heart goes out to Arnold and his entire family."

Mrs. Palmer was a business student at Brown University when she met her future husband in the Pocono Mountains in 1954 during Fred Waring's annual golf tournament. Palmer had just won the Pennsylvania state amateur championship.

"I met him on Tuesday; he asked me to marry him on Saturday," she once said.

She avoided her husband's spotlight, concentrating on charity work for literacy programs and health care.

She was the director of Latrobe Country Club and the Bay Hill Club and Lodge, both Palmer-owned enterprises. She also was a consultant to Lexington Furniture, which created the Palmer Collection.

Palmer had prostate cancer surgery in 1997 and went on to play in that year's Masters, but he has played little in public since.

Palmer's enthusiasm appeared to wane as his wife's condition worsened the past few months. He was unwilling to talk about how much he'll play in 2000.

"My thoughts are vague," he said last month at the World Golf Village, where he and Jack Nicklaus are designing a course. "I've got other things I'm concerned about. My golf game should be one of them, but it isn't a premium on my agenda."

In addition to her husband, Winnie Palmer is survived by daughters Peggy and Amy and six grandchildren.

A private memorial service was scheduled for Monday at Unity Chapel near Latrobe, followed by a private reception. A memorial service was to be schedulein Orlando.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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