WASHINGTON -- With his charismatic personality and legendary accomplishments, golfer Arnold Palmer long stirred pride in Western Pennsylvania, has been lauded by presidents, Congress and sports fans and even has an airport named for him. Now his home state senators want Congress to add one more honor.
Pennsylvania's Bob Casey and Pat Toomey introduced a Senate resolution Wednesday commemorating Palmer's life and achievements, citing his roots and lifelong residency in Latrobe, Pa. Palmer died Sunday at the age of 87.
"Whereas Arnold Palmer was one of the most popular professional athletes of all time, known affectionately as 'The King' for his civility, modesty, and commitment to public service," the resolution begins. "Whereas Palmer, with his charming personality and approachability, popularized the game of golf, introducing millions of people in the United States to the sport, many of whom became part of 'Arnie's Army', a legion of fans worldwide..."
It goes on for three pages, hailing Palmer's loyalty to his hometown, charitable work, service in the Coast Guard and seven major golfing titles.
"Arnold Palmer was a legendary golfer who also dedicated his life to Western Pennsylvania," Casey, a Democrat, said in a joint news release. "He'll always be remembered as 'The King' on the golf course, but just as importantly our nation will remember him for his charitable endeavors, like his work to invest in cancer research."
Toomey, a Republican, said Palmer, "represents the best of Pennsylvania."
"While 'The King' is famous for his golf career, he is renowned for his generosity, kindness, and commitment to his community," Toomey said in the release.
Palmer has previously been honored in Washington: in 2004 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush and in 2009 Congress voted to award him the Congressional Gold Medal, joining a list of recipients that includes George Washington, Thomas Edison, Jesse Owens and Rosa Parks.
Palmer occasionally dipped his toes into politics. He introduced Bush in 2004 when the president campaigned at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Westmoreland County.
He also donated campaign money, mostly to Republicans, including $250 last year to Toomey's reelection bid. (He has given the Republican a modest $1,500 since 2009). Palmer also gave to 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) and contributed frequently to at least one Democrat, his hometown Congressman, the late Jack Murtha. One of Palmer's largest political donations, $2,500, went to the late Tom Smith, a Republican who challenged Casey in 2012.