Skee Riegel: 1914-2009
Time largely forgot Skee Riegel, but this obituary from The Press of Atlantic City demonstrates that he's worth remembering. Riegel, who was 94 when he died in a hospice in West Chester, Penn., was a bona fide character, as well as an accomplished golfer who won the U.S. Amateur in 1947 and finished second to Ben Hogan in the Masters in 1951.
In 1948, Riegel was the low amateur in the Masters for which he expected something other than a hearty congratulations. "They initially told him that he should be honored just to be there," John Petronis, a former golf pro at Cape May National Golf Club told the newspaper, "but he pressed on and they eventually got an ash tray from Augusta National, engraved it for him, and presented it to him. That made Skee the first low amateur to actually bring something home from the Masters."
A long-time Cape May, N.J., resident, Riegel received his nickname as a kid, when he pulled a pair of planks from a barrel, attached them to his shoes, and skied down a hill.
Riegel was 4-0 in two Walker Cups. On the trip home from the '47 Walker Cup, aboard the Queen Mary, he went missing.
"We were all passing the cup around," he said in a Delaware Today story a year ago, "and I guess I probably had a little too much to drink. I eventually drifted away from the party and fell asleep. Nobody could find me, and they thought I had fallen overboard. They actually stopped the ship in the middle of the Atlantic before they found me sleeping comfortably in one of the life boats."
-- John Strege