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Arnold Leo Biondi, celebrated golfer in New England

LEWISTON, Maine -- Arnold Leo ''Al" Biondi, a longtime golfer who won nearly every major professional golfing award in Maine and New England, died Friday at his home in Leeds.

Mr. Biondi, who never wanted his true age revealed, won numerous golf tournaments throughout his career, which spanned from the 1950s into the 1990s.

He was the New England PGA Professional of the Year and a member of the Maine and New England PGA halls of fame and the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. He won 16 Maine PGA Senior Championship titles and qualified seven times for the US PGA Seniors Championship.

Governor Angus King declared Oct. 17, 1999, as Arnold ''Al" Biondi Day in Maine because of his many accomplishments.

''He was Mr. Golf in Maine," said Joe Golden, owner of Springbrook Golf Club in Leeds, a course that Mr. Biondi designed in 1966. ''Even at this point in his career, he wanted to play golf all the time."

Mr. Biondi was born in Pennsylvania and went to the Augusta Country Club as a pro in 1957, where he remained until his retirement in 1999.

Besides winning numerous golf tournaments, he also was known to volunteer freely to teach golf to others in his caring way.

During his career, he was awarded the Horton Smith Award, a national teaching award for outstanding service to the PGA, and the Bill Strausbaugh Award for mentoring fellow PGA professionals.

''This really is the end of an era in Maine golfing history," Golden said. ''Al personified the word professional. When it comes to golf, Maine's going to miss him."

Mr. Biondi leaves his wife, Dianne; a daughter, and a son.

A service will be held tomorrow in St. Francis Xavier Church in Winthrop.

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