July 9: Louise Solheim, wife of Ping founder Karsten Solheim, passed away on July 8 in Phoenix, Arizona, at the age of 99.
“Today we lost a very special woman who touched and improved the lives of so many,” said Ping chairman & CEO John A. Solheim, Karsten and Louise’s youngest son. “Our mother was a blessing to everyone in so many ways. She had a special quality that gave her the ability to bring a smile to everyone’s face and she handled every situation with grace. We looked to her for guidance in all aspects of our lives and she always took great care to advise us, building our confidence to make decisions ourselves. We will miss her dearly. Our entire family is at peace knowing she’s now in God’s care.”
“Our mother preferred working behind the scenes,” said Allan D. Solheim, the middle son. “Karsten’s tinkering with putter designs in our garage began as a hobby, but it quickly turned into a thriving business. From the beginning, my mother assumed the administrative side of the business, allowing Karsten to focus on club designs. She was blessed with an incredible memory, which Karsten relied on regularly. Whether it was remembering someone’s name or the specifics of an event, she always had the answer. Together, they made an amazing team that formed the foundation for Ping today.”
Despite her desire to maintain a low profile, Louise’s countless contributions are widely recognized and deeply engrained in Ping’s history. She is credited with naming the most famous putter in golf — the Ping Anser — which has been used to win more than 500 professional golf tournaments around the world. Her role in creating the Solheim Cup in 1990 opened the door to bringing women’s professional team golf to a worldwide stage.
Her numerous honors include an Honorary Doctorate degree from Arizona State University (1992), the LPGA’s Commissioner’s Award (1994), Swedish Golf Federation Distinguished Service Award (2003), Arizona Golf Hall of Fame (2004), Arizona State University Regents Award for Outstanding Service to Higher Education (2004), Honorary LPGA member (2005) and Honorary Ladies European Tour member (2011).
Born June 6, 1918, in Spokane, Wash., Louise was the only child of John Louis Crozier, a teacher and inventor, and his wife, Nellie, who died of scarlet fever a month after giving birth to Louise. She and Karsten met in 1936 in church and were married that same year.
An honor student in high school, Louise worked various jobs over the years as she and Karsten moved around the country while he continued his engineering career. Her last position before Ping became a full-time pursuit for her family was assisting John Conlan, a two-term State Senator from Arizona who later became a Congressman.
Louise was preceded in death by Karsten (February, 2000) and their daughter, Sandra Solheim Aiken (December, 2013). She is survived by her three sons: John A. Solheim, Karsten Manufacturing Corporation Chairman, President & CEO; Allan D. Solheim, retired Karsten Manufacturing Executive Vice President and current board member; and Karsten Louis Solheim, retired Karsten Manufacturing Executive Vice President and current board member. Louise was blessed with 14 grandchildren, 47 great grandchildren and 14 great, great grandchildren.