PBA Hall of Fame Charter member Chuck Pezzano dies at age 86

    01/24/15

    United States

    Internationally recognized bowling journalist, historian was one of a kind

    20150123ChuckPezzano.jpgChuck Pezzano (pictured) of Clifton, N.J., a charter member of the Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame and widely recognized as the dean of bowling journalists, died Friday, January 23 of cardiac arrest while undergoing a stent procedure at St. Mary's Passaic, N.J. He turned 86 on Jan. 14.

    Since the formation of the PBA in 1958, no one has contributed more to the organization in so many different ways than Pezzano, a founding member of the organization.

    Born in Paterson, N.J., in 1929, Pezzano lived his entire life in New Jersey. After graduating from Rutgers University, he started his writing career with the Paterson Morning Call in 1952 and continued writing for The Record in Bergen County until his death, more than 60 years later.

    Over the years, he contributed to more than 100 publications round the world and he authored or co-authorized more than a dozen books about bowling.

    Pezzano first became involved with the PBA as a top-flight competitor. He was the first collegiate bowler in the United States to bowl an 800 series. One of his proudest accomplishments as a bowler was joining his four sons – Charles Jr., Craig, Curt and Clay – as the first father and four sons to bowl 300 games.

    But his legacy off the lanes far surpassed his credentials as a player as he evolved into the most prolific bowling writer in history.

    In the 1960s, Pezzano and fellow New Jersey entrepreneur/PBA Hall of Famer Frank Esposito created the PBA Regional program, creating a close-to-home, affordable competition arena for thousands of would-be professional bowlers to develop their skills.

    He was the first Meritorious Service inductee in the inaugural PBA Hall of Fame class in 1975, and later inducted into the United States Bowling Congress and Bowling Writers Association of America Halls of Fame, among his 12 halls of fames.

    In addition to his prolific writing contributions, Pezzano was a television pioneer, working with hall of fame broadcasters Mel Allen, Chris Schenkel, Jack Buck, Brent Musberger, Al Trautwig and others. He worked as a consultant on television, movie and instructional videos, and traveled the country serving as an emcee and guest speaker at hundreds of bowling functions.

    Pezzano also was heavily involved in PBA business affairs, running the PBA East Region for 20 years. He was secretary of the PBA Hall of Fame for nearly 20 years, and served as the organization's official historian for longer than that.

    He helped open the door for women bowling writers to join the previously all-male Bowling Writers Association of America (which later named its scholarship program in his honor) and he was a lifelong advocate for high school and collegiate bowling. He was actively involved in charitable fundraisers, and worked closely with curator Bruce Pluckhahn in planning exhibits for the "new" International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in St. Louis.

    When the PBA dedicated its pressroom in his honor in 2011, Pezzano said, "It was Will Rogers who noted that he never met a man he didn't like. I won't go that far but I will say that I never met someone in bowling that I didn't like something about.

    "Through bowling I have traveled more than three million miles, visited every state, and places such as Las Vegas and Reno more than 150 times, delved into the history of the sport, learning about the roles of women, minorities, bowling communications and halls of fame.

    "Writing, broadcasting, speaking, serving on special committees (18 hall of fame committees) being involved in major innovations to and for the sport that provide endless fodder for all bowling involvements. The goal always is to just do everything a little better than it has been done."

    Failing health had limited his travel in recent years, but Pezzano never stopped wanting to help.

    "Chuck called me a week ago, still trying to help the PBA," PBA Commissioner Tom Clark said Friday. "He's an icon, prolific and multi-talented. There will never be another like him. He'll be greatly missed."

    Pezzano is survived by his four sons, grandchildren Amanda Rose Pezzano and Jarod Charles Pezzano, and brothers Russell and Arnold Pezzano. He was preceded in death by his wife Lila (nee Grosser) in 1983, brother William and sister Joan.

    Wake: Wednesday, Jan. 28, 4-8 p.m.
    Funeral Service: Thursday, Jan. 29, 10:30 a.m.
    At: Bizub-Quinlan Funeral Home
    1313 Van Houten Avenue
    Clifton, NJ 07013
    Telephone: 973-546-2000