Many of us associate the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with family. So it seems fitting that every two years on the Saturday night of Thanksgiving weekend, the Buffalo area bowling "family" gets together to honor its champions, achievers and those who devote great service to the sport.
Family was the theme Saturday night when nine new members were inducted into the Greater Buffalo USBC Association Hall of Fame at Samuel's Grande Manor.
Two of the honorees, Brad Angelo and Ruth (Jensen) Wolliver, follow a parent into the Hall. Two are husband and wife, Dave and Mary Grace (Hubert) Williamson. The late Jim Wangler Jr. was the epitome of a bowling family guy whose love of the sport and support from his family gave him so much joy while battling cancer.
Then there is Mary Chase, whose work as a youth director and lanes manager did so much to encourage new generations of young bowlers.
The other inductees were Ray Bellet and Holly Parrish for outstanding performance and Cynthia Kosanovich for meritorious service.
Angelo is probably the most famous of those who were enshrined. One reason: His dad, Nin Angelo, developed a following for his long run on the "Beat the Champ" television show on WBEN-TV in the 1960s and then won the 1973 Obenauer Masters.
Another reason is because Brad stood out on the national and international stage in the sport. He owns two PBA Tour championships and was PBA Rookie of the Year in 2002-2003. Before the PBA Tour, he was named to Team USA and earned two gold and two silver medals in international play. Also, he won the Kuwait Open in 2014. In 2016, he was All-Events champion of the USBC Open.
It's not that he lacks accomplishment locally. Angelo is one of only two four-timer winners of the Obenauer Masters, was runner-up twice and led the qualifying in another year.
Dave Williamson, the proprietor of Spare Time Bowling Center, defined the term "good teammate," because he bowled or led so many championship teams in addition to his individual accomplishments.
His team, Best Approach Pro Shop, won the team championship of the City Tournament four times. He also won doubles titles in 2004 and 2007. With his son, Kurt, he won the doubles in the 2009 New York State Tournament. In 1994, he shot 702 in leading his team to the team championship in Rochester's Lilac Tournament, a win worth $40,000.
Mary Grace Williams was a two-time All-American and started on national junior college championship teams at Erie Community College. She bowled with Billie Pepperday, GBUSBCA Hall of Famers Doris Coburn, Cindy Carroll and Sally Nelson on a state championship team.
The one-time proprietor of the former Ideal Lanes, she was on the first-place scratch team in the 1998 City Women's Tournament and won the 2015 Me & Mine top division with Sean Parry.
Bellet's love of bowling is as great as his love for baseball. He was a longtime pitcher in the Buffalo Muny AAA league. In 1981, he pitched a perfect game in the Muny League and posted one of his 11 career 300 games in bowling.
An inductee in the Veterans Category, Bellet won two City doubles championship and more than held up his end with sets of 730 and 718. He was runner-up in the 1987 Obenauer. He bowled in the now-defunct All-Star Travel League for most its existence. Twice, he won the Buffalo Senior Masters.
If Wolliver didn't make the Hall for her ability, it's likely she would have been honored for service to the sport, especially with youth. Her mother, Jackie Jensen, was inducted into the GBUSBC Association Hall of Fame in 2014.
Ruth won the NJCAA singles in 1986 and 1987 for ECC. She was a 1990 state champion in doubles and won the Erie County Suburban Women's Association championship. She was 1994 Erie County Queens champion and 1997 Buffalo Women's Association Queens winner. She twice has served multi-year terms at youth director on the GBUSBC Association Board of Directors.
Holly (Filarecki) Parrish twice was GBUSBC Female Bowler of the Year and she has a string of championships in several City Women's Tournament events, including scratch and singles titles in 2009 and scratch singles in 2012.
She netted scratch and handicap singles and All-Events titles in the Women’s Championship Tournaments in 2009 and the scratch singles and all-events titles in 2012. Holly was also the 2009 scratch and handicap doubles champion with Hall of Famer Sue Jeziorski.
Her team, Filarecki 4, won the City Open (including men) Handicap team title in 2015 with a lineup that included herself, Bobby Lynn Marshall, Peggy Kuhn and Michelle Sterner. Also, she was the 2013 WNY Queens champion and her Erie Alumni team won the the state title in 2017 and came back the next year and finished second with a slightly altered lineup.
Chase, Kosanovich and Wangler Jr. all had accomplishments as players in addition to their service.
Chase coordinated youth programs at Arrow Lanes and AMF Thruway Lanes from 1986 to 2015. Now the manager of the Tonawanda Bowling Center, she was longtime manager at AMF Thruway Lanes until it closed two years ago. While she was at Thruway, the facility successfully hosted Section VI scholastic, NJCAA national tournaments, USBC Youth Open as well as pro tour events.
Kosanovich has served the sport avidly on a league, local association, state and national level. Many times a holder of league office, she became a member of the Buffalo Women's Bowling Association in 1996 and has served as a director, officer and committee worker. She became a director of the Greater Buffalo USBC Association when the BWBA and the Buffalo Bowling Association were merged in 2005.
Almost annually, she has been a delegate to national organizations such as the former Women's International Bowling Congress, the USBC and the national 600 Club.
Wangler's passion for bowling and family is not easily matched. Besides his love of competition, he encouraged all, promoting the sport wherever he could. Often it was just by showing up to see others compete. It was rare for him not to be present at a major local bowling event. He was secretary of many leagues and worked with and coached young bowlers. For years, he ran the Maryvale High Invitational which has become a major fixture early in the local scholastic season.
It was a Wangler tradition to pack up the family and compete in the USBC national tournament. They did that for 25 years. In 2012, Jim Jr., son Jimmy III and daughter Kim each bowled 300 games.
His absence was the lone disappointment of an evening of tribute to bowling and its contributors.