Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Community Chamber of Commerce to honor Arnie's pal 'Doc'
Donald “Doc” Giffin didn't grow up in the Latrobe area, but the Crafton native has adopted the home of his boss and friend, legendary golfer Arnold Palmer.
“It's beautiful country. I love it out here and have no yearning to go back to the city,” said Palmer's personal assistant. “It's a beautiful area in addition to having great people.”
In 1966, when Giffin was working as the PGA Tour press secretary, Palmer asked the former sports reporter to work for him.
“We get along very well and always have,” Giffin, 85, of Unity said of his famous boss. “It's just a pleasure coming to work every day.”
On Oct. 14, Giffin will be honored with the 2014 Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Community Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award.
Palmer, 84, said on Thursday that Giffin has been very community-oriented in his work, which includes correspondence, media requests and speech writing.
“He's been a very industrious guy for just short of 50 years now,” Palmer said. “When you stay together for 50 years, that's a pretty good indication that it's worked pretty well for all those years.”
Chamber President David Martin said that even in the short time he's been in the Latrobe area, Giffin's presence is widely felt.
“The more I talked to people in the area, the more his name would come up in support of local businesses and local charities,” Martin said. “He's just a special guy. If you don't know that from the first time you sit down and talk, it comes across clearly.”
Born in 1928, Giffin graduated from Crafton High School in 1946 and worked as a junior and senior for the school newspaper, where he earned his nickname, partially because of friends' association with his grandfather, who was a pharmacist.
He was sports editor, then editor of the Pitt News before graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 1950, then served in the Army during the Korean War.
“I was going to be a lawyer, but I was fortunate enough to get on the Pitt News as a freshman,” Giffin said. “I don't remember why I was so fortunate, but I did ... and fell in love with the newspaper business.”
For nine years, Giffin worked at the Pittsburgh Press, where he first learned of Palmer, before working for the PGA Tour.
Over the years, Giffin said he's particularly proud to have been recognized by the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association, the Tri-State Section of the PGA of America and the Metropolitan (N.Y.) Golf Writers Association.
Giffin said Palmer's office still receives at least two to three requests per day for memorabilia, appearances and autographs for charity fundraisers, estimating items have raised millions of dollars over the years.
“I think you need to help your community in whatever ways you can. Mine apparently has been more indirect,” he said.
Giffin said he appreciates all the opportunities he has had as Palmer's right-hand man, including interactions with those in and outside of the golf world — from Bob Hope to four presidents — Dwight Eisenhower, George H.W. and son George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.
“I consider myself a very fortunate man, to have been at the right place at the right time, made the right decisions,” he said. “It's been quite a thrill. It's been a wonderful lifetime.”
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Former Penn-Trafford student put on house arrest for drug sales
- One-day lane restrictions set on Route 30 in North Huntingdon
- Greensburg driver charged after ATV struck on rail tracks
- Greensburg seeks holiday parade marchers
- Line painting planned in Penn Township
- Greater Latrobe teachers, school board approve 5-year contract
- House 58th District seat candidates focus on education, taxes
- Kin of 2013 DUI crash victim in Hempfield lose young family in fire
- Second phase of Westmoreland Airpark in Unity opens
- Pittsburgh man pleads guilty in Monessen shooting
- DNA evidence in alleged June 2013 rape leads to Latrobe man’s arrest