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Published: Wednesday, 6/26/2013

Quiet excellence

Stranahan, in 1942 Stranahan, in 1942
THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

FRANK Richard Stranahan, a consummate gentleman athlete who became the world’s greatest amateur golfer, died Sunday in Palm Beach, Fla. He was 90.

Mr. Stranahan was the heir to Champion Spark Plug. His father, R.A. Stranahan, and his uncle Frank, founded the company, but Mr. Stranahan used his own talents and work ethic to dominate amateur golf from 1945 until 1954, when he turned pro.

Mr. Stranahan was down-to-earth and didn’t lord his privileged birth over other people.

“He was a gifted, remarkable athlete, and clearly a good guy,” said John Robinson Block, editor-in-chief and publisher of The Blade. “He mixed with regular people in the gym as easily as with plutocrats.”

Mr. Stranahan was ahead of his time in adopting a lifestyle of healthy food and exercise. He lifted weights until the age of 90 and ran in 102 marathons.

Coached by Byron Nelson at Inverness, Mr. Stranahan played with all the greats, including Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, and Ben Hogan. As an amateur golfer, his greatness is surpassed only by Bobby Jones and the young Tiger Woods.

From 1943 to 1945, he served as an Army Air Corps pilot during World War II.

After converting his wife to golf, he watched her win several national and international women’s tournaments. Always impeccably and stylishly dressed, even on the golf course, Mr. Stranahan embodied a more elegant era.

Although he had not lived in Toledo for decades, Toledoans of an earlier time knew and liked Frank Richard Stranahan.

Toledo and the rest of the world are poorer now that he’s gone.

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