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Casper’s Funeral Set Saturday
The funeral for Billy Casper will be held Saturday, February 14, at the LDS Stake Center in Provo at 350 North 900 East beginning at 11 a.m. The obituary as published by the family is below.
William Earl “Billy” Casper Jr.
Utah Golf Hall of Fame, 1990
Surrounded by family members and his wife of 62 years, William Earl “Billy” Casper Jr., devoted family man, champion golfer, and friend to all, passed away at his home in Springville, Utah, on Saturday, February 7, 2015.
He was born 83 years earlier in San Diego, California, on June 24, 1931, to William Earl and Isabel Casper. He lived a full and rich life, centered around a family posterity that stood at 80 members when he died, with four more on the way.
In golf, he secured a place among the best to ever play the game. He won 51 times on the PGA Tour, the seventh most ever. In 1988 the PGA Tour ranked him tied with Ben Hogan as its fourth greatest competitor in history, behind only Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. As of 2015, his lifetime winning percentage of 9.2 percent ranked third in the modern era, behind only Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. He won two U.S. Opens, in 1959 at Winged Foot and 1966 at Olympic Club, and the 1970 Masters at Augusta National. From 1956 through 1971 he won at least one tournament a year for 16 straight seasons, the second longest streak in history.
He was named PGA Player of the Year twice, captured two money titles, collected five Vardon Trophies for lowest stroke average of the season. He played on eight U.S. Ryder Cup teams, winning 23 ½ points, the highest total ever for an American. In 1979 he captained the victorious Ryder Cup team. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978, prior to joining the Senior (now Champions) Tour in 1981, where he won another nine tournaments and two senior majors. In 2010 he was given the PGA of America's Distinguished Service Award, the organization's highest honor. All his life he was a tireless ambassador for the game of golf, traveling the world to spread goodwill. The friendship he began in 1969 with the king of Morocco, Hassan II, developed into a lifetime relationship with the royal family that opened many diplomatic doors.
In 1966, at the age of 34 and the height of his golfing career, he made the unprecedented move of joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His devotion to the church knew no bounds. He gave hundreds, if not thousands, of fireside talks while an active golfer and afterward. After winning the U.S. Open in 1966 he didn't go to Scotland to play in the British Open, the season's next major, because he'd committed to host the LDS All-Church tournament in Salt Lake City.
Born and raised in the San Diego area, he learned to play golf at the San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista. He began caddying at age 11 and early on developed a habit of putting in the dark after the course was closed, honing what has been called the finest putting stroke in golf history. He left California briefly on a golf scholarship to the University of Notre Dame, but returned after less than a semester, homesick for his girlfriend, Shirley. He joined the navy and the week after she graduated from high school in 1952 he and Shirley were married.
Billy and Shirley filled their home with children. They had five of their own, adopted six more, and raised several others through the years as official and unofficial foster children. In 1992 they started the Billy Casper Youth Foundation, a charity that hosts an annual fundraising tournament at San Diego Country Club and has raised more than $3 million for children's causes.
Billy Casper is survived by his wife, Shirley, his children Linda (Kim) Henrie, Billy (Karen), Bob (Kelly), Byron, Jeni (John) Carpenter, Judi (Jack) Fisher, Charlie (Gina), David, Julia (Johnny) Cervantez, Sarah (Michael) Morris, Tommy, and “foster” children Emory (Michelle) Allen and Debby (David) Lappatt, 37 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren.
Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday, February 14, at 11:00 a.m., at the LDS stake center at 350 North 900 East in Provo. The family will visit with guests Friday evening from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Wheeler Mortuary, 211 East 200 South, Springville and at the stake center prior to the service, from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. Burial will be at Evergreen Cemetery in Springville, 1997 South, 400 East.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Billy Casper Youth Foundation, 761 8th Street, Imperial Beach, CA 91932.
Published in Salt Lake Tribune from Feb. 10 to Feb. 11, 2015
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