Eleanor J. Appling, 77, champion golfer, president of Women's Golf Association

April 01, 2001|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Eleanor J. Appling, golf champion and former president of the Women's Golf Association, died Wednesday of cancer at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. She was 77.

For more than 50 years, Mrs. Appling's life revolved around golf. She met and fell in love with her husband on a golf course.

Since 1981, she had lived in a house that overlooked and gave her instant access to the Towson Golf and Country Club's Eagle's Nest golf course in Phoenix, Baltimore County, where she had been a member for 30 years.

"She still shot an 84 while battling cancer, and had a handicap of 13," said John L. Gants of Parkville, past president of Towson Golf and Country Club and a friend for 45 years.

"She really enjoyed the game and was a tremendous athlete, and the irony is that Eleanor still carried her own bag," said Mr. Gants.

Mrs. Appling began playing golf in the 1940s, and went on to win the Women's Public Links championships; she was club champion in 1982 and again in 1987. In her 60s and 70s, she won multiple seniors tournaments.

Born Eleanor Jones and raised in Ednor Gardens, she graduated from Western High School in 1942 and worked during World War II as a draftsman at the Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River.

After the war, she continued working until the early 1950s, as a draftsman for the Baltimore architectural firm of Fisher, Williams and Ness.

"She just picked up the game and practiced and practiced and got good quickly," said her daughter, Susan E. Appling of Phoenix.

"She was giving me golf lessons at Clifton Park in the late 1940s, when these two guys walked up and asked if they could play with us. She told them that it would probably be slow and not very exciting, but they persisted. One of them later became her husband, Charles," said her sister, Ann Cumor of Stoneleigh.

The couple married in 1950 and enjoyed playing the sport together until a few years ago when Mr. Appling's health began to fail.

"She was meticulous, precise and analytical when it came to the game. She brought an engineer's mind to the game. And she always knew everyone else's score," said her daughter, laughing.

Mrs. Appling, whether on the course or off, always carried in her little black purse the United States Golf Association's rule book and the roster of the Women's Golf Association.

"Eleanor always played by the rules, and if there was a question, she'd pull it out of her purse and read it. She really was an example to all of us," said a longtime friend and golfing partner, Joan B. Marconi of Towson.

Mrs. Appling also was a member for 15 years of the American Society of Course Raters, which evaluated golf courses throughout the state.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

In addition to her husband, daughter and sister, she is survived by a son, Thomas D. Appling of New York; a nephew; and a niece.

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