Bowling along after all these years

93-year-old man bowls in league since 1947

By Sarah Schuch
The Flint Journal

GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Family and teammates on his bowling league call 93-year-old Marcel “Randy” Ranville an inspiration.

At a month away from 94, Ranville is still bowling on the Knights of Columbus league and has been since 1947. That’s roughly 7,000 games.

“He’s my idol. ... He is still going. And he’s got the greatest attitude,” said Bob Myers, a member of the bowling league. “He never misses a week and never misses a game. It’s fun to be around somebody like that, that keeps persevering. It’s fun having him around.”

And when Ranville bowls a strike, some members in the league joke around and bow down at his feet.

Ranville just laughed when he talked about it with The Flint Journal.

“I just help them get up,” he said with a grin.

Ranville, of Grand Blanc Township, started bowling when he was just a kid after spending the day at the bowling alley with his dad. Then, there were pin boys who would reset the pins by hand. The wood floors of the alley were laid board by board and smoke lingered at the ceiling.

After returning home from World War II, he once again picked up his love for bowling and never looked back.

“I’m pleased I’m still able to throw the ball,” Ranville said. “What I’m thankful for is I can get done with three games and I’m not tired. ... As long as I can do it (I’m going to continue it). I just like the companionship.”

Mark Ranville, Randy Ranville’s son, bowls on the league with his dad and said he still cheers him on, just like he and his siblings did when they were kids.

When sitting around the kitchen table with his brothers, Paul and Ray — like they do every Wednesday for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches — Mark Ranville poked fun at his dad.

“I hope I’m not still bowling when I’m 93,” said Mark Ranville, 58, of Davison Township, with a laugh. He added that bowling with his dad is very entertaining. “Whether they are with us or competing against us, everybody’s hoping he does well.”

The best game Randy Ranville has ever bowled was a 256, although he admits that now a 150 or 180 game is considered good for him. But you will see him wearing his team shirt and carrying a 14-pound ball every week without fail.

Although he couldn’t say for certain, Chuck Lindberg, manager of internal communications for Knights of Columbus Supreme Court council, said it’s safe to say Randy Ranville is one of the oldest members to still be on a bowling league.

“I haven’t come across many 93-year-olds. I personally don’t know any older,” Lindberg said. “I think it’s outstanding that he’s still involved at that level.”

For Randy Ranville, though, it’s nothing unusual. It’s just something he enjoys doing. With nine kids and working six days a week as milkman for McDonald Dairy, he didn’t have much time for other sports or activities.

But it’s that job that Ranville said kept him feeling young.

“He’s very active. He slowed down a little bit, but he still gets along all by himself,” said Randy’s son, Ray Ranville, 66, of Flint Township. “It amazes a lot of people that he is still bowling in a league.”

Denny Owens, Randy Ranville’s son-in-law, bowls on the Knights of Columbus bowling league as well. His father-in-law is an inspiration.

“I hope I can lift a bowling ball when I’m 93, let alone keep bowling,” said Owens, 65, of Mundy Township.

Randy Ranville’s son, Paul Ranville, said that his dad is his hero.

He and his siblings couldn’t have had a better example than him, Paul Ranville said.

“He finds life fun. He just goes. If there’s something to do for the day, he does it,” said Paul Ranville, 67, of Mundy Township. “He does not let himself get down. He enjoys life.”