Even at 93, strikes and spares

Even at 93, strikes and spares
Frank Gardner, 93, bowls every week in the senior league at Recreation Lanes.

OK, so maybe his average has "slipped'' a bit.

At one time, Frank Gardner averaged 183 and now, it's down to around 120.

He use to crack the 200-mark on a regular basis and, in fact, once bowled a high game of 273. His best this year has been a 160.

But those are just numbers. Frank Gardner just turned 93 and we should all be so lucky to still be bowling at that age.

Which Gardner does on a regular basis; he bowls at 1 p.m. every Tuesday in the Senior FUNTimers League at Recreation Lanes.


"He's just a fun guy, everybody enjoys having Frank around,'' said Marlys Ohnstad, one of the organizers of the league.

"A number of years ago, we had a guy still bowling after he turned 95 but, boy, that's been a long time now. Frank is one of those rare ones. He loves to be here, he loves to bowl.

"It never fails, every time Frank leaves he always makes it a point to thank me for having such nice lanes.

"He also thanks me for ‘allowing me to bowl.' ''

And bowling has been his life like, forever, according to his daughter, Pat Maus.

"He's always been in one league or another over the years,'' she said. "It's funny, too, because no one else in our family bowls. He started out as a kid working in an alley and that was at a time  before they had automatic setters.

"I tagged along with him to the lanes but never got into it myself. All these years,  I can't remember a time when he didn't bowl.''

Well, with one exception. In June of 2010, Gardner suffered a stroke, and he lost some short-term memory ability. That's when his daughter moved him to Rochester from his home in Iowa.


"I wanted him closer to me,'' she said, "but I knew that he was going to miss bowling if I did that. So I called around to some lanes and sure enough, Rec Lanes offered a perfect seniors league. And, boy, does he love it. He hasn't missed a week since he started.''

Gardner started out as a high school math teacher/principal and his family hopped around the country, moving from California, to Ohio and South Dakota before finally settling in Iowa.

"He spent most of his adult life in Iowa,'' said Pat. "When he retired he was working as brakes and hydraulic engineer for John Deere.

Gardner also played tennis most of his life, but finally was forced to stop in his "mid-80s.''

"When I beat the younger guys,'' he said, "I used to love buying them coffee using my senior citizens discount.''

Long story short, he's always been active.

"People probably don't know this, but dad was also a very good billiards player,'' said Pat. "And when he's not active, he's at home watching baseball, mainly the Twins.

"No matter what, he still walks every day. I believe that bowling really helped him get back on his feet after his stroke, especially with his balance and timing. He still uses a 16-pound ball.


"It's all been good.''

Fellow bowlers are astounded that he's 93.

"Whenever Frank picks up a spare, everyone around him cheers,'' said Ohnstad. "A couple of weeks ago he bowled a turkey (three straight strikes) and you should have heard them then.''

Gardner was asked his biggest bowling thrill.

"Can't really say,'' he said, "but bowlers are such friendly people. That's what makes it enjoyable. They keep me going.''

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