"Augusta and this golf tournament has been about a part of my life as anything other than my family and most of you know that," he said afterward.
"I don't think I could ever separate myself from this club and this golf tournament. I may not be present, I may not be here, but I'll still be part of what happens here only because I want it to be. I've had such a great life and enjoyed it so much."
Palmer's departure left tears in its wake, tears from Sam Saunders, who caddied for his famous grandfather during the 68th Masters, to his two daughters, many grandchildren and finance Kit Gawthorp.
Plenty, said Palmer.
"A lot," said Palmer, showing the facial strain of his emotional week. "Sometimes I just get tired and the emotion overrules and runs away with me. I'm not upset about it. You know if I can't handle it that's my fault."
Everywhere he walked along the rolling fairways this week, Palmer saw friends, most made over the course of his 50 years at The Masters.
Those tender moments were about the only thing that Arnold Daniel Palmer couldn't handle in his life.
He handled victory or defeat with equal grace and dignity. He beat prostate cancer and returned to play the following year at The Masters. He handled the loss of his wife, Winnie, to cancer with the dignity one expected of a golf icon.
Palmer said he will return yearly to the Champions Dinner to remain a part of the Masters and will seriously consider a role as an honorary starter, perhaps as early as 2005.
But there will always be the memories, wonderful memories, for a man with a trunk full of them.
"I've thought about how many times I've walked up that 18th fairway," he said, rewinding his reel of highlights back to 1955, his first Masters appearance.
"I can think of the four times that I won The Masters. I can think of a couple of times that I didn't win that I felt like I should have won. I can think of the fans that have support me and listened to them, and, of course, they all have something to say, or most of them have something to say about what I'm doing when I'm walking up that fairway."
Arnold Palmer never met a fan he didn't like or a fan that didn't like his blue-collar style.
He never failed to sign an autograph or look a person in the eye whether he was on the fairway playing golf or in an entirely different arena of the business world.
He was a legend who walked among us, said Gary Player, himself a larger-than-life former Masters Champion.
"He gave of himself," said Player. "If you give to the fans, they give back. A lot of athletes are aloof. But Arnold was always aware of the man in the street."
And that can be no greater testimony for anyone.