This year would have marked the 58th consecutive time that Henry Daniel attended the Masters Tournament.
His son Steve Daniel said that his 90-year-old father had reached the point where he could barely walk to the mailbox, but that the Decatur, Ga., man still planned to be in Augusta this week for his favorite golf tournament.
"When Masters time came, he always mustered up extra energy from God knows where," the younger Mr. Daniel said. "He would go over there like he was 20 years younger."
Henry Daniel died Friday, the day of his 90th birthday and three days before the start of the Masters. His son said Mr. Daniel's funeral Monday was packed with friends and family.
"He just had a tremendous influence on everyone in all levels of life. He crossed generation lines," Steve Daniel said.
A big sports fan, Henry Daniel especially enjoyed golf, both as a player and as a spectator.
He attended his first Masters in 1935 - the second year of the tournament. A friend who worked for Kimberly-Clark gave him four tickets to the event, telling Mr. Daniel it was an up-and-coming tournament he should get in on.
Steve Daniel said that after his father received tickets for a few years, he decided to sign up for Augusta National Golf Club's patrons list to ensure the tickets would keep coming.
"He always said it was the first check he wrote every year," Steve Daniel said.
Over the years, the fan made friends with Augustans who lived near the club and then rented a room or even their house during Masters Week so he could walk to the course.
"He got passed around from one neighbor to another," Mr. Daniel's son said with a laugh. "My father even stayed with one couple for over 20 years. They were like family."
After Mr. Daniel retired from the printing business in the 1970s, it was his actual family that accompanied him to the tournament, mainly Steve Daniel and his brother Dick, now deceased. Steve Daniel said it was important for his father to share his love of the game with his loved ones.
One of his favorite memories of his father was when Mr. Daniel, normally a very detail-oriented man, realized when he had reached Augusta with several business associates that he had left his Masters tickets at home.
So his wife called up Delta Air Lines at Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport and had the tickets flown to Augusta Regional Airport.
"My dad met them at the airport that night at 11. The captain handed over the tickets personally and said 'I know how important these are,' " Steve Daniel said. "I think my dad gave him a big hug."
Mr. Daniel also is survived by his wife, Frances, his daughter Gail Thome, nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Reach Dena Levitz at (706) 823-3339
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