Q-C bowling scene has lost its biggest supporter


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Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2013, 7:15 pm
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By John Marx, jmarx@qconline.com
It arrived -- delivered by hand -- on or about Tuesday of every week. Two, sometimes three, sheets of medium-sized tablet paper.

It was thorough; it was accurate; each word was spelled correctly. For 32 years, 30 weeks a year, every word -- typed on a typewriter -- was perfect. Cal Whitmore did not need the electronic age -- he relied on old-fashioned understanding and personal relationships.

Cal left us this week at age 85. I was honored to know him and to work alongside him for a portion of our newspaper careers. When I began in this amazing business almost 30 years ago, Cal was already an established bowling columnist for The Dispatch.

When The Rock Island Argus joined the Small Newspaper Group family, Cal's expertise was introduced to a whole new audience. From 1977 to 2009, he kept us updated, entertained and informed on all that was happening on the local lanes.

To say Cal knew bowling and the mindset of the bowler would not do him the justice he deserved. He was an outstanding bowler and a member of seven bowling Halls of Fame, rolling his first game at age 13 in 1940. He was the secretary and member of the Tri-City Classic for more than 55 years. Cal might have been the best "numbers'' guy going when it came to tallying bowling sheets.

Cal knew and understood the ins and outs of the game, which was rapidly changing around him. Best of all, though, Cal knew people. His ability to carry on a conversation on many a subject was his second-greatest attribute. His greatest treasure and asset, he told us many times, was his bride of 67 years, Phyllis, who passed in January.

Many a week, Cal's Tuesday jaunt through the sports department -- column in hand -- would turn into an hour-plus talk about the state of the world, the state of the newspaper business and the state of the bowling community. The man, homegrown and homespun in so many wonderful ways, was as worldly as they came.

Time was, bowling was THE thing to do in weeknight recreation circles, and Cal said those were some of his favorite years. When bowling's popularity slowed in the 1980s and 1990s, Cal pushed even harder to make sure it stayed part of the local landscape. He tutored countless youths and high school bowlers on the merits of the game, urging them to chase college bowling opportunities and to participate thereafter.

At age 82, Cal decided 32 years and nearly 1,000 columns were enough, citing the need for more free time for his stepping back from writing. At that time, he was still bowling, averaging an amazing 167. In his 70-year love affair with bowling, there were better bowlers than Cal Whitmore, as he would be the first to tell you. But few -- if any -- ever gave as much to the sport locally as Cal did.

Thing is, he was far too modest to ever tell you that.

Thanks, Cal. You were a gem.





Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or jmarx@qconline.com.


















 




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  Today is Wednesday, Sept. 17, the 260th day of 2014. There are 105 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We are told league merchants have paid no attention to the prohibition on selling ammunition, but continue to sell just as before the order was issued.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The Rev. R.F. Sweet, rector of Trinity Episcopal Parish, left for the East to visit his boyhood home in Boston before attending the general convention of the Episcopal Church in New York.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Dr. E.A. Anderson was named to succeed Dr. E.L. Kerns as head physician of the Modern Woodmen of America, and moved to Rock Island from Holdingford, Minn.
1939 -- 75 years ago: One week late, because of the outbreak of war, Dr. E.L. Beyer resumed his work as professor of romance languages at Augustana College. Dr. and Mrs. Beyer left Germany on the last train to the Belgian border.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Employees in Turnstyle stores in Moline and Davenport will vote Oct. 2 in an election set up by the Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. Employees will vote either for the Retail Clerk International or for no union.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Rock Island High School is considering a step to help teen moms stay in school and get their diploma. The school board is expected to vote tonight on instituting an on-site child care center.


(More History)