Lansing, Ill., (AP) -- TONY LEMA, the delightful Champagne Kid whose quick wit and smile had charmed the golfing millions of two continents, died as he had lived -- on the golf course. LEMA, 32, his wife BETTY, and two others were killed Sunday night when their light plane plunged into the manicured turf of a golf course straddling the Indiana - Illinois state line. The other victims were MRS. DORIS MULLEN of Joliet, Ill., the pilot, and DR. GEORGE BARD of Kankakee, Ill., the co-pilot.
The plane was en route to Joliet from Akron, Ohio, where LEMA had played in the Professional Golfers Association Championship Sunday. It crashed and burst into flames on the Lansing Sportsman's Club course. LEMA was scheduled to play in the one-day $12,000 Lincolnshire Tourney at Crete, Ill., today.
A witness, BUD DORTON, said the low-flying plane swerved to avoid a group of people standing near the club house, the engines died, then started and died again, and the plane plunged to the ground, digging up a furrow near the seventh green before bursting into flames. "The pilot was a hero," he said. "The plane swerved to the left -- if it didn't a lot of people would have been hurt." LEMA, a slender, handsome man with an impish grin, flashing blue eyes and thinning hair, was one of the world's leading professionals. His death brought shocked reactions and tributes from throughout the golfing world.