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Monday, May 2, 2016

Art Ryden - still bowling them over at 91

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Arthur Ryden has enjoyed competition all his life. He ran cross-country in high school at Alta, and though he weighed just 118 pounds, set a school record which lasted for many years . He took up bowling in 1925 - when he was 9 years old - because his father had a bowling alley in the basement of the clothing store he operated on Main Street in Alta.

After graduating from Alta High School in 1933, Ryden worked in a bank in Alta until 1941. In April of that year, he moved to California and began working as a substitute at several banks in the San Francisco area, needed because many of the banks' employees had been drafted into military service. A few months later, in September, Ryden himself was drafted, and served in World War II as a supply sergeant, stationed on Attu Island in Alaska, part of the Pacific theater of action. Ryden says there were "no women or trees" on the remote island , and was glad to leave there in 1943 to go to Officer's Candidate School at Camp Lee in Virginia, from which he graduated as a Second Lieutenant. Art's brother Arnold was in the military at the same time as he, and was killed at the Battle of the Bulge and buried in France. The two had another brother and two sisters, but Art says he is now "the last Ryden" of that generation.

Art and Lucille Ryden - 58 years and counting!
After the war, Ryden joined the Officer Reserve Corps, and went back to Alta, where he worked with his father in the dry cleaning business. He met and married his wife Lucille in 1948, but was called back into service in 1950, when the Korean War broke out. After being discharged in 1953, he again returned to Alta, took over the dry cleaning business from his father, and moved the business to Cherokee - even though there were three other dry cleaners in town at the time. The business did well, though, thanks to Ryden's perseverance and the support of wife Lucille. Art and Lucille soon added four children to their family - daughters Jo Ann, Jolene, and Linda, and son Gary. In addition to his work, Ryden resumed his bowling, sponsoring a Ryden Cleaners team - which bowled in five ABC tournaments over the years - in Des Moines, St. Louis, Buffalo, Detroit, and St. Paul. Lucille says she feels the bowling helped relax her husband from the pressures of work. He and son Gary (now a retired Air Force officer) competed in a father and son tournament when Gary was 12 - the same year Gary rolled one line of 212. Gary stills bowls, but strictly for recreation- he hasn't joined any leagues.

Ryden continued his dry cleaning business, located across from the depot in Cherokee, for 28 years - retiring in 1982. He did not, however, retire from bowling or shooting pool. Ryden has never bowled a 300 game, saying that 257 is his top score- achieved on two different occasions. His highest seasonal average was "in the 190s" several years ago. Oh yeah, and he also took up a new sport - golf- at the age of 68.

When he was in his early 80s, Ryden had prostate cancer, and received radiation treatment. Not too long after that, he qualified for his first "Iowa Games," competing in the 75-and-older bowling competition. Ryden brought home a bronze medal from the Games. A couple of years later, he returned to compete in Ames, after he had been diagnosed with colon cancer, and the 85-year-old took home the silver medal that time out.

A third trip to the Iowa Games a couple of years later resulted in disappointment. Ryden was rolling a practice ball when his knees gave out. The 87-year-old came back to Cherokee and had knee surgery., then two years later, in 2004, the 89-year-old Ryden returned to the Iowa Games, and this time "brought home the gold." He had to skip the 2005 Iowa Games because he had carpal tunnel surgery on both his wrists.

Winners! Gold medal winner Art Ryden holds the sign identifying this group as the 2006 Iowa Games bowling medal winners in Division 132 (ages 75 and up). Silver medal winner Ervan Jahn of Sanborn is on the left, and Delmar Iburg of Williamsburg and Dale Noel of Des Moines tied for third, and were both awarded bronze medals. Photo submitted.
In 2006, though, Art Ryden returned to Ames, and captured his second gold medal. His daughter Jolene Niemeyer of Perry says , " You should have seen the excitement at the bowling alley. Most of the participants in the other lanes had finished and Dad, being a little slower, was on the last lane that was bowling. Word got out that this older gentleman was bowling one strike after another, and the people were really watching him finish his game. He ended his third game wth a 233 scratch. There was a lot of excitement as he stood on the podium to receive the medal, and many commented that he was certainly an inspiration, and they hoped that they will be able to achieve what he did when they are his age."

Ryden says he has had a good - sized contingent of "cheerleaders" at all the competitions, including his wife, four children, 10 grandchildren, and sons and daughters-in-law. Art and Lucille are wonderful people to whom family is very important. Lucille proudly displays a picture from last Christmas at their home- all the children, grandchildren and in-laws were there, and all slept in the house - no motels. Art says there were sleeping bags spread out all over the house to accommodate the large group.

During bowling season, Ryden bowls in the Hawkeye League once a week, and also bowls once a week in a Senior League. These days, his average is in the 140s. Art says he has bowled at many different lanes in many cities over the years, but feels that Cherokee Bowl "is one of the finest bowling establishments I've ever bowled in" - singling out owner Tim Gaydo for his remodeling and other improvements he has made.

The 91-year-old Ryden says he feels "you're never too young to start bowling, and never too old to keep bowling," and concludes by saying, "I feel fortunate at my age to be able to do the things I do."

Keep on rolling, Art.