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Ken Still, the gregarious local golf legend, dies at age 82

The Tacoma-area native was a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, had two top 10 finishes in majors and was a member of the 1969 U.S. Ryder Cup team. He died Sunday in a Tacoma nursing facility.

Ken Still, one of the biggest personalities in Northwest golf history, has died of kidney failure at age 82.

The Tacoma-area native was a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, had two top-10 finishes in majors and was a member of the 1969 U.S. Ryder Cup team. He died Sunday in a Tacoma nursing facility.

He was known as much for his gregarious, outgoing personality as his golf accomplishments.

“As impressive as his legacy was as a golfer, he was an even better person,” said Jeff Ellison, chief executive officer of the Northwest section of the PGA of America, the organization for club and public-course pros. “He was a friend to everybody.”

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Still said last fall that he had refused to explore getting a kidney transplant.

“I’m 81,” he said. “What if someone 25 years old or younger needs a kidney? I’m not going to take it from them. That’s not my style.”

Still had decided nine days before his death to go off kidney dialysis because he had become very frail and was declining.

Still’s friendship with Jack Nicklaus led Nicklaus to design the back nine at the American Lake Veterans Golf Course pro bono. The course is designed so it can be used by disabled veterans.

Still called Nicklaus during a course board meeting and said, “Jack, I need you involved.”

Nicklaus paused 10 seconds, then answered, “Ken, count me in.”

When the new nine opened last year, Still was chosen to hit the first tee shot.

Nicklaus was with Still on the 1969 Ryder Cup team when Nicklaus famously chose to concede a missable 3-foot putt facing Tony Jacklin so the match could be assured of ending in a tie.

Nicklaus had called Still during his final days, and so had fellow golfers…

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