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Orlando Remembers Arnold Palmer As Golf Legend And Philanthropist

The Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children held its grand opening in 1989. Credit: Arnold Palmer Hospital Staff
The Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children held its grand opening in 1989. Credit: Arnold Palmer Hospital Staff

Central Florida leaders are expressing sympathies after the death of golf legend Arnold Palmer. He died Sunday in a Pittsburgh hospital at age 87.

Palmer's legacy in his part-time home of Orlando goes beyond golf.

His philanthropic projects in the City Beautiful include two hospitals that bear the Palmer name: Arnold Palmer Medical Center and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies.

Palmer donated more than $70 million to Orlando Health in his lifetime.

John Bozard is the head of Arnold Palmer Medical Center’s Foundation. He knew Palmer for 30 years.

“Children’s hospitals are not money makers, they are a service to the community," said Bozard. "Without the philanthropic support, and without him lending his name, and actually helping us make phone calls to potential donors to garner their support, this hospital would not have been in Orlando, Florida. There is no question in my mind.”

Palmer also bought Orlando’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge golf resort in the early 1970s. The Arnold Palmer Invitational has been played there every year since the late 1970s as part of the PGA Tour.

In a tweet expressing condolences, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said Palmer was "one of the greatest golfers of all time, but also a generous man who gave so much to charitable causes in Orlando.”

In a statement released on social media, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs called Palmer “a giant of golf and giving – truly a life well lived.”

Nicole came to Central Florida to attend Rollins College and started working for Orlando’s ABC News Radio affiliate shortly after graduation. She joined Central Florida Public Media in 2010. As a field reporter, news anchor and radio show host in the City Beautiful, she has covered everything from local arts to national elections, from extraordinary hurricanes to historic space flights, from the people and procedures of Florida’s justice system to the changing face of the state’s economy.