With a tear in his eye, Jack Nicklaus asked everyone to remember the time Arnold Palmer touched their lives.
“I hurt like you hurt,” Nicklaus said. “You don’t lose a friend of 60 years and don’t feel an enormous loss.”
The service took place at Saint Vincent College in Palmer’s hometown. It was filled with laughter and warmth from stories of the most significant player of the game. Golf’s biggest names were in attendance.
Palmer died Sept. 25 in Pittsburgh as he was preparing for heart surgery. He was 87. His private funeral for family members was Thursday.
“We were looking down at the air strip and the fog just suddenly lifted,” Ernie Els said Tuesday after landing in one of several private jets that descended on Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. “This is a beautiful day. We’ve all met different people in life. He was a man who didn’t change. It didn’t matter if you cut the grass or you were a president. He was the same with everybody.”
Mechem pointed to a large photograph of Palmer and asked the crowd to remember the Palmer who hitched up his pants and gave a thumbs-up.
“There’s an old saying that there are no irreplaceable people,” Mechem said, his voice cracking toward the end of the ceremony. “Whoever made that line didn’t know Arnold Palmer. There will never be another.”
Palmer won 62 times on the PGA Tour, including seven major championships.