Arnold Palmer passed away today at 87, leaving behind a large, extended family who loved him and will miss him greatly. Palmer was a golf legend, born to a family of high achievers, including his father Deacon Palmer who overcame polio to become a golf professional who inspired his son. Arnold leaves behind two daughters, Peggy Palmer Wears and Amy Palmer Saunders. He also leaves behind four grandchildren and nine great grandchildren, his sisters Lois Tilley and Sandra Sarni, his brother Jerry Palmer, and nieces and nephews.
Here’s what you need to know about his family.
1. Arnold and Winnie Palmer Had Two Children: Peggy Palmer Wears and Amy Palmer Saunders
Arnold and his first wife, Winnie Palmer, were married for 45 years and had two daughters: Peggy and Amy, who were born two years apart. Peggy married Peter Wears of Durham, North Carolina. Amy married Roy Saunders of Windermere, Florida. They manage Latrobe Country Club and Bay Hill Club.
Winnie and Arnold were married until she passed away from cancer in 1999. In 2005 at the age of 75, Arnold married his second wife, Kathleen Kit Gawthrop, and they were married until he passed away in 2016.
2. Arnold’s Dad, Milfred Deacon Palmer, Taught Him Golf After Suffering From Polio
Arnold was born in 1929 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania to Milfred “Deacon” Palmer and —-. His dad, Deacon, was head professional and greenskeeper for Latrobe Country Club. Deacon overcame a lot in his life, including a bout of polio when he was young. Golf Channel reported that Deacond was born with infantile paralysis, that left him with a club left foot and caused him to walk with a limp. Arnold first learned golf from his dad, when he accompanied him on the golf course where he worked. Arnold began caddying at the club when he was 11. His dad passed away in 1976.
Arnold once said that his dad was like a buddy to him, but he was also scared of his dad because he could be so tough on him. “He told me what to do and I did it as fast I could get it done,” he said. You can see another picture of Arnold’s dad below:
Arnold’s mom, Doris Palmer, passed away in 1979 after battling crippling arthritis.
3. Arnold’s Grandson, Sam Saunders, Is a Professional Golfer
One of Arnold’s grandchildren, Sam Saunders, is a professional golfer. He played his first U.S. Open at 23. In 2011 he jokingly said: “Sometimes I think my name is ‘Arnold Palmer’s grandson’ and not Sam Saunders, because people don’t really know my real name. But I’ve dealt with that for a long, long time, and I’m OK with that.” Sam’s dad, Roy, said his son was a natural golfer.
Sam is married to Kelly Saunders and they live with their son, Ace, and Kelly’s son, Cohen.
4. Arnold Has Four Grandchildren and Nine Great Grandchildren
Arnold leaves behind a large, extended family. He has two grandsons, two granddaughters, and nine great grandchildren, according to his biography. Some of his other grandchildren also play golf.
5. Arnold Palmer Has a Brother, Jerry Palmer, and Two Sisters Lois Tilley and Sandra Sarni
Arnold’s brother, Jerry Palmer, followed in his father’s footsteps and became superintendent of the Latrobe Country Club and worked there for many years. Jerry has two children: Deacon Palmer and Amanda Palmer Hinrichs.
Arnold’s sisters, Lois Jean Tilley and Sandra Sarni, live in Western Pennsylvania. Lois, who’s known as “Cheech,” helped plan Arnold’s elopement to his first wife in 1954, Golf Channel reported. Lois once said that their dad was toughest on Arnold. “He left my problems up to my mother and I was a good kid,” she said. “Poor Arnie had a rough time with school work…so Daddy was tough on him.”