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PGA legend Billy Casper remembered as golf champion, family man and philanthropist

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Posted at 5:48 PM, Feb 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-14 23:24:57-05

SPRINGVILLE, UTAH –Local golf legend Billy Casper’s funeral was in Provo Saturday, where family and friends gathered to remember him as a golf champion, family man and philanthropist.

“It wasn’t about him. As great as he was, a champion at what he did, it wasn’t about that. It was what he could give to others,” Casper’s oldest son, William Casper, said.

William Early Bill Casper Jr. was seventh all-time for PGA Tour wins, taking the trophy in 51 tournaments. He was laid to rest near his Springville home Saturday surrounded by family and friends.

“It was just beautiful,” Casper's son William said. “And we’ve had several friends of ours come up and say that was absolutely the most beautiful service they’ve ever been to.”

Casper died of a heart attack at this home in Springville on Saturday, February 7. He was 83 years old. Casper was married to his wife Shirley Franklin for 62 years. They had five children and adopted six. The couple joined the LDS church and raised their family in Utah.

“A person that loved his fellow man but a person that was a phenomenal champion, not only in golf, but in life,” his son Robert Casper said.

In his later years, Casper won nine victories on the senior tour and started several charitable organizations.

“Everything they said about him was true and then some,” said Lee Benson, author of his autobiography, "Bill Casper: The Big Three and Me." “His record stacks up there with some of the ten greatest golfers of all time."

While people said mostly he kept to himself more than some other well-known golfing champions like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, Benson said he belongs on the same page in the history of golf.

“As a golfer, he'll still probably be the most unsung great athlete ever, because just of the way he lived his lifestyle, kind of out of the limelight, but his record in the record book will be one of the top players of all time,” Benson said.

Casper is survived by his wife, Shirley, his children and 71 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.