Two more bowlers achieved special recognition this week at the South Point Bowling Plaza as they added their names to the list of bowlers who have made 50 appearances at the USBC Open Championships.
George Gervase of West Chicago, Illinois, and Denny Torgerson of Urbandale, Iowa, celebrated the milestone as part of the same big group Tuesday, and each new member of the 50-Year Club received a plaque, chevron and diamond lapel pin to commemorate the achievement.
A look at each:
George Gervase Gervase, despite dealing with Parkinson’s disease, has bowled in 50 consecutive USBC Open Championships and refused to give up on his personal goal, regardless of his ailments.
The 73-year-old right-hander walked to his lane with a smile on his face, since he was reaching a goal he was fighting to achieve. He made his Open Championships debut in Detroit in 1971.
“It’s rough bowling with Parkinson’s,” Gervase said. “I don’t have the balance or coordination that I had before, and my age doesn’t help, but I’m on the right side of the grass, as they say.”
In 2018, at the age of 70, Gervase is proud to say he shot an 811 series in a mixed league, despite his struggle with Parkinson’s. He also won the Illinois state doubles title in 2001 and has a long line of family bowling history in Illinois.
Eight years into his career at Open Championships, he decided to set his sights on the 50-year plateau, when he noticed he could have 50 consecutive years to add to his list of achievements.
“I just had this goal in mind, and I had to keep trying to bowl in this event,” Gervase said. “I always made sure my health was good and my surgeries lined up, so I could make it.”
On the lanes this year Gervase pulled through and bowled sets of 419 in team, 417 in singles and 413 in doubles for a 1,249 all-events total.
In 50 years at the Open Championships, Gervase has knocked down 85,734 pins for a career average of 190.52.
Denny Torgerson Torgerson made his way to the lanes this week after defeating COVID-19 and dealing with other health complications, but he was in good health and even greater spirits for his special appearance Tuesday in Las Vegas.
The 78-year-old right-hander has a fiery passion for bowling and plans on participating in the sport for as long as he physically can. He made his first Open Championships appearance at the 1967 tournament in Miami.
“This is a really big milestone for me,” Torgerson said. “I was pushing hard for this, and then I started to have some health problems and then COVID hit, but I told myself I was going to go, even if I could only shoot 100.”
In previous tournaments, Torgerson has finished third in doubles (1982), contributing a 708 series, along with taking fourth place in doubles with 784 in 1992. He also was elected to the Greater Davenport Metro Bowling Association Hall of Fame in 1998 for his many years of achievements on the lanes.
“The main thing I like about coming to Open Championships is seeing the people every time you come back,” Torgerson said. “Bowlers are just the best, even if they complain a little.”
Torgerson notes he has been in the bowling business for 63 years and has done almost every job there is to do in the sport. He currently owns a 36-lane bowling center called Val Lanes in West Des Moines, Iowa.
“When you go to work every day, it doesn’t feel like work,” Torgerson said. “It can be tough sometimes, but I think those tough times just build character. If you don’t fail, you’ll never succeed.”
On the lanes this year, Torgerson rolled sets of 508 in team, 474 in doubles and 418 in singles for a 1,400 all-events total.
In his 50 years, he has knocked down 89,027 pins for a career average of 197.83.
These two bowlers show that no matter the adversities you might face in life, your passion and love for what you do can keep you going.
During the 79-day run of the 2021 Open Championships at South Point, 25 bowlers are expected to celebrate 50 years on the tournament lanes, while two more reach 60 years.