Bradenton bowler celebrates 93rd birthday at lanes where she still keeps the books for her league

cnudi@bradenton.comJune 26, 2014 

BRADENTON -- She's not the oldest bowler in the league, but she is the longest-serving secretary so a bowling alley birthday party was in order Wednesday when Doris Norwood turned 93.

The youngest bowlers in Wednesday Morning Women's League are in their 50s. The oldest bowler, Camello Savarino, turned 101 in March.

"I started in 1942," Savarino said. "My husband was drafted (into World War II) and I asked him what I was going to do while he was gone. He went out and bought me a bowling ball, bag and shoes."

Norwood moved to Bradenton with her family in 1958, and a year later her neighbor asked her to join a bowling league.

If it wasn't for a bum knee, the 93-year-old Hall of Fame bowler would still be rolling the ball down the alley with the Wednesday Morning Women's Bowling League.

"I hope to get back to bowling soon," Norwood said Wednesday while she and "the girls," as she calls her fellow bowlers, gathered at the AMF Bradenton Lanes, 4208 Cortez Road, to celebrate her birthday.

"I'm on a pain-management program," she said, with clear optimism it will not be long before she will be chasing her high score of 245 again.

While on a break from bowling, Norwood still takes care of league records, which she has been doing for the past 52 years as league secretary.

For her, bowling is more than chasing a high score. It's also social interaction.

"All my friends were bowlers," she said.

Bowling has been a family affair for Norwood. She bowled on a couple of leagues with her late husband, Marion, and began coaching the junior bowling leagues after her three daughters became bowlers.

"It's a great experience to be able to enjoy being with one another doing a sport that's so much fun," said Jan Thompson, Norwood's middle daughter. "More people need to get out here doing it."

Thompson was the Florida State Junior champion in 1966.

Norwood's oldest daughter, Gail Avery, who brought her two grandchildren, Scoutt Avery and Riely Strangis, to the birthday party, said she was amazed at how active her mother is.

"It's a blessing to still have her here," Gail Avery said.

And while Thompson and Avery were raising their families in the 1970s and 1980s, their younger sister, Terri Norwood, was traveling around the country winning bowling tournaments.

She was inducted into the Florida Bowling Hall of Fame in 2009 -- three years after her mother who was inducted in 2006.

Terri Norwood changed sports to become the national jet jki racing champion in 1991.

She said she admires her mother's longevity as league secretary and the job she does.

"She does it very well," Terri Norwood said. "She calls everyone before the season starts to remind them to sign up, and she takes care of everything."

Doris Norwood said her time with the league helped keep her active and was all worth it.

Bowling, at least for this league, could be considered an elixir. Another member, Mary Mariano, is 96.

"I like the girls and like getting out," Mariano said. "It's interesting and a challenge and good exercise."

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service