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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Art Wilder ... a striking man

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Art Wilder attended the Senior National Bowling Tournament in Reno, Nev., last June and came in 15th place overall in the country in the Super Senor Division.
OREGON COUNTY -- Art Wilder is a bowler. A good bowler.

He lives on County Road 250 just off E Highway next to his son Pat and daughter-in-law Diane.

Art who will be 92-years old next month loves to bowl.

"We looked at property a lot of places and one of the requirements was that where we moved would have to have a bowling alley. We are a bowling family," Diane said.

The family moved from East Moline, Ill., where Wilder did construction work until he retired. He has lived here about four years and loves it. He said he has been bowling about 60 years and bowled with one league, The Ranchers, 38 years while living in Moline. Wilder is a self-taught bowler.

Last October, Art bowled in the Missouri State Senior Bowling Tournament in Farmington, Mo. He came in second in the super senior division which is 75-years old and older.

"This is a state held tournament where you have to be a senior citizen. There are five different divisions which are made by age groups. The first place winner (men and women) in each division gets invited to the National Senior Tournament. The fellow in my division that won first place couldn't go and since I placed second I got to go," Art said.

The tournament was held June 17 and 18 in Reno, Nev.

"The Monday night before the actual tournament began they had what they called a Sweeper were all the bowlers met and we bowled three games. I won first place in the Super Senior Division," Wilder said.

At the Senior National Tournament the two top men and women senior bowlers from every state as well as Mexico and Canada, participate.

Art came in 15th place in the Super Senior Division.

"I really enjoyed it. I think there was only one guy there as old as me," he said.

Art bowls at least three days a week at Thayer and Ash Flat and if there is a tournament nearby on the weekend he usually goes to that.

On Monday nights he bowls at Thayer Lanes in the Non-Smoking League. On Tuesday afternoon he bowls in open bowling at Thayer Lanes and on Friday he bowls with the Cherokee Village Senior League at noon.

In 1992, Art bowled a 300 game which is perfection in bowling. "I was 74-years old then. I was the oldest man in the country to bowl a 300 game. Now I'm the ninth oldest man in the country to bowl a perfect game," Wilder said.

"There's not much money in bowling unless you are a professional. I do it for fun, relaxation and physical exercise. You get to meet a lot of different people. There is some mental exercise that goes with it too. It takes a lot of mental concentration to bowl strike after strike. It's hard to do," he said.

After returning from the National Senior Tournament in Reno, Wilder went to the Midwest, Southwest, Professional/Amateur Tournament in Jonesboro this past July. "This is where amateurs, like myself, get to bowl with professionals," he said. Wilder of course, took first place in the senior division and Diane took first place in the women's division.

"I beat a national bowling champion, Chris Barnes, at the Jonesboro tournament in my first game of the tournament," Art said.

"When we get ready to go on vacation, the first thing we pack is our bowling balls, then we see if we have room for our clothes in the car. If we are traveling down the road it is not uncommon if we see a bowling alley to stop and bowl," Diane said.

Art's best average bowling score was 185. "That was back when bowling was something," he said.

Bowling has changed over the years, Pat said. "Bowling has become more technical. The lanes have become more challenging. They use oil on the lanes and you have to have a ball to match lane conditions," Pat said.

Art said a bowling ball can be bought for between $50 and $300. "The kind of ball you purchase depends on what you want to do with the ball. You always need several balls in your bag," Diane said.

Art said he didn't take a ball to Reno to the National Senior Tournament. "I bought a ball that Monday morning and had the holes drilled to fit my fingers that morning and bowled with it that night," Wilder said.

All bowling lanes, even the Thayer Lanes have to follow U.S. Bowling Congress rules and regulations. The lanes have to be the same width and same size. They are checked every year. Pat and Diane check the lanes at Thayer Lanes. All bowling lanes are 60 foot long.

Art has had many honors due to his bowling skills. He has been placed in the Hall of Fame, received certificates, shirts, pins, patches and more.

Art will keep bowling as long as he can.

"I had someone ask me once, 'Have you bowled all your life?' I said not yet!"

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