Still at it: George Tobiason keeps knocking pins over at the age of 90

George Tobiason, 90, rolls a ball while warming up for the Thursday night Suburban League Jan. 11 at Legacy Lanes. (Photo by Pete Temple)

Bonnie Tobiason, George’s wife of 50 years, helped him celebrate his 90th birthday.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     George Tobiason has certainly had his share of bowling success over the years. But the reason he is still a regular bowler at Legacy Lanes – at age 90 – is more basic.

     “I’ve just enjoyed it,” Tobiason said. “I enjoy the people that are there, and it’s fun being with our team.”

     The fun started for Tobiason 64 years ago, after he finished his duty with the U.S. Army.

     “I just got out of the service, and Clifford Helgens, a friend of mine, got me hooked up with the team,” Tobiason said.

     He started at the old Monticello bowling alley, where Stephen Motors now sits. When that closed, the team bowled in Anamosa, and then moved back to Monticello when Kimberly Lanes (now Legacy Lanes) opened in 1980. Tobiason was on the board for construction of the building.

     Along the way there has been success, and lots of fun. Tobiason has bowled on many teams, including DeKalb, Jake’s Standard and his current Al’s Repair team in the Suburban League that bowls on Thursday nights.

     He bowled in four national tournaments, including Huntsville, Ala., Salt Lake City, Utah; and two in Reno, Nev. He also competed in a variety of state tournaments in Des Moines and Waterloo, and three father-son tournaments in Galesburg, Ill.

     In 1981, he had his league’s high score (264) and high series (655).

     “That’s not very good compared to today’s scores,” Tobiason said.

     He earned five trophies in one season, 1984.

     His team traveled in a team van that had benches and a card table in the back. Wives would accompany the bowlers on the trips as well.

     “We had so much fun as couples,” said Bonnie Tobiason, George’s wife of 50 years. “We would make a weekend out of it.”

     George overcame a pair of knee replacements in the 1980s, and continued to bowl well.

     “I was fortunate,” he said. “Those worked out well.”

     His highest-ever score was a 279, his highest series a 665, and his highest season average was a 184.

     He did once have a 300 game in a nine-pin tournament, and once achieved a rare Dutch 200, rolling a strike and a spare alternately throughout his game.

     Age has reduced his scores, but at 90, Tobiason still carries a 153 average. He now uses a 14-pound ball instead of the 16-pounder he used in younger years.

     “I throw pretty much a straight ball anymore,” he said. “I don’t have the strength anymore (to throw a hook).”

     That hasn’t stopped him from enjoying his bowling nights with teammates Bob Null, Scott Behrends, Al Stadtmueller, and grandson Jared Lasley. Trint Adams and Dennis Dirks fill in as substitutes when needed.

     “It’s just something I’ve enjoyed,” Tobiason said.



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