Byron Nelson's Wife Discusses Living with the Late Legend

Byron Nelson at home with wife Peggy.
Jim Gund/SI

Everyone knows so much about my late husband, Byron Nelson. They know him for his many great golf accomplishments and his several successful careers afterward, as a broadcaster, rancher, tournament host and even as a woodworker. His humility in the face of so much success was remarkable and completely disarming. But people don't know the Byron Nelson that I knew. He was an even better person than they realized, and very different too.

For instance, Byron was an amazing romantic. I can still remember the first time he kissed me. He did it enthusiastically and thoroughly, and afterward, still holding on to my shoulders, he stepped back and declared, "I knew it would be like that!"

For our one month "anniversary," I made a special dinner for us at home, and as we were finishing our dessert, Byron announced, "I want to celebrate our anniversary every month, Sweetheart, because I'll never have enough time with you." Which we happily did, for a total of 238, and every one was special.

Of course, there was a 32-year age difference between us, so when I would meet somebody or go with him to a meeting, people would occasionally ask if I was his daughter. One time someone even asked if I was his granddaughter! This was awkward at first, but I finally settled on a satisfactory response: "No, I'm his wife," I would say. "Isn't he a rascal?" We both got a big laugh out of that.

Byron always had a great sense of humor, and we laughed a lot. He told me that he had laughed more being married to me than he had the whole 75 years before that.

Byron drove his own car, a minivan, until he was 94. He would wear out the path from our ranch in Roanoke, Texas, to the Four Seasons Resort, where they played his tournament and held his golf school. He was a very careful driver and had an excellent record — only one school-zone ticket in the 20 years we were married.

Alyssa Conroy

He would always call me before he left to come home, and I would always call when I was coming home. In fact, the day he passed away, I left him a message that I was on the way home to fix his lunch. I'll always be glad for the time we had together. Recalling various sweet or funny moments of our life — like playing golf ­together at Riverhill Golf Club in Kerrville — is a joy that I revel in. Last week, when people asked me who was going to win, I smiled and gave a simple reply: The one with the lowest score. Just like Byron used to say.

Peggy Nelson's book Life with Lord Byron was published by Creative Enterprises.

 

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