LARSON: At age 96, senior bowls over community with time and talent

It would be impressive enough that Louise Howington, at age 96, bowls every Monday. But the fact that she heads up the whole league, made up of members of a senior group called the Keenagers really strikes everyone as even more remarkable.

Howington started bowling in retirement with her husband, who had bowled nearly all his life. After he passed away in 1995 she continued on her own and got even more involved. She keeps track of members' schedules, records and handicaps, and she types up the league's stats and information on her old manual typewriter at home. And being the only charter member of this Snellville league, which began in 1980, makes her even more familiar with everyone's ability and availability.

"We change teams every 26 weeks. I make them up by their averages so everyone starts off at the same level," Howington said. "And I never schedule a husband and wife to be on the same team because if one can't be here, then it usually means they both can't make it."

Having worked for First National Bank for 43 years, and for much of that time directly assisting the vice chairman of the board, playing with numbers is right down her alley.

Even with all this activity, both physical and mental, Howington still has energy to spare.

"I just recently stopped driving, but I still attend Sunday School and church service every week at Loganville Baptist Church," she said, noting that up until just a few years ago she had been teaching Sunday School herself.

"I started teaching when I was 12 at Grant Park Baptist Church," she said. "The areas were divided off by curtains and the supervisor walked around to make sure we were all doing our job."

She also bowls people over with her handiwork by making placemats and Christmas items for her church to sell at annual festivals.

"I sold about $850 worth this past year and the year before. I made $1,250 the first year I did it," she said.

Last year Howington received the Volunteer of the Year Award from Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation for her contributions to the Keenagers.

"She's been our chaplain for 10 years," Keenagers President Joanne Fuller said. "She's a real inspiration to us."

"She's so wonderful to be around. A Southern princess is what we call her," team member Charlie Petrie said.

Howington takes it all in stride.

"I don't worry about whether or not I'm a good bowler. It's all about fun and fellowship for me. I have a lot of friends and a lot of fun. Wherever I go and whatever I do, if it isn't fun, then I won't do it."

Can I take that to mean that whatever she does has to strike her fancy?

Susan Larson is a writer who lives in Lilburn. Email her at susanlarson79@gmail.com


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