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Arnie’s Army of One
Local dentist and shutterbug Howdy Giles publishes a book in tribute to his idol—and good friend—Arnold Palmer.
Go ahead and accuse Howdy Giles of stalking golf legend Arnold Palmer. You won’t offend. “You’re not the first person to say that to me,” says Giles, a Wilmington dentist and newly christened author. “But they didn’t use that word back then.”
It took a few years of following one of sports’ most popular figures—Giles even obsessed over one day becoming Palmer’s dentist—but the two formed a friendship in the 1970s. Giles has been living a dream ever since.
The superfan is sharing his unique story in a book called, “The King and I: An Unlikely Journey from Fan to Friend.” Considering the wariness of today’s sports celebrities and the antics of stalkers, forming a relationship like Giles and Palmer’s is highly unlikely.
That’s what makes “The King and I” so endearing. The photo-driven volume, published by Triumph Books (Random House’s sports division), features more than 200 of Giles’ snapshots that span 50 years. Many photos include Giles, described by one writer as “the field general of Arnie’s Army.” Delawareans, such as restaurateur and course owner Davis Sezna, and many celebrities, also turn up.
Giles first captured his idol on film in 1965 during a Miss America parade in Atlantic City. He went on to snap more than 300,000 photos of Palmer. One image was used by LeRoy Neiman to paint a famous portrait. Others appear on Arizona Arnold Palmer iced tea labels.
In the book, Giles recounts personal and public moments he shared with Arnie—including finally becoming Palmer’s dentist. The book was released in September in honor of Palmer’s 80th birthday. Perhaps most rewarding to Giles is that in his foreword, Palmer crowns Giles his No. 1 fan.
“My line is, I try to make everybody an Arnold Palmer fan,” Giles says. “He’s enriched my life so much.” —Drew Ostroski
Page 5: A Place to Lay Their Heads | A statewide campaign to collect 2,600 sleeping bags for homeless children ends this month.