A memorial Mass will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Friday in St. Bernard Catholic Church, 1990 Clinton St., for Gene Rutkowski, who enjoyed his lifelong passion of bowling for more than 60 years.
Mr. Rutkowski died Oct. 30 in his Cheektowaga home. He was 70.
"He was a bowler extraordinaire," said David A. Miller, a close friend and longtime bowling colleague. "He always carried a 200 average, and he was a [tireless] promoter of bowling."
Mr. Rutkowski, whose bowling career started at age 9, served as president of the Buffalo Bowling Association and held top leadership posts with numerous travel leagues and other bowling associations. He rolled four 300 games, once threw a 789 series and held a 214 average in one league.
Miller remembered one incident that showed the high regard Mr. Rutkowski was held in throughout the local bowling community. A few years ago, good friend John Zak had rolled 11 straight strikes in a league match, when he insisted that Mr. Rutkowski throw the last ball. He left a solid 10 pin, for a 299 game.
"It would have gone in the record books as the first two people [collaborating on] a 300 game," Miller said.
Away from the lanes, Mr. Rutkowski was a retired supervisor for Albany International Co. and was a past union president at Globe Woven Belting.
A Cheektowaga native, Mr. Rutkowski graduated from Sloan High School, where he played baseball and basketball. He also enjoyed golf, as a longtime member of Brierwood Country Club in Hamburg, where he won the club's spring classic in 1992.
Survivors include his wife of 51 years, the former Patricia Gibbons, and two daughters, Michelle Malczewski and Darleen Rutkowski-Dublino.