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    A Salute to One of Our Own - Joe Lyou

    ColumnistJohnJowdy.jpg In one of the most historic decisions in bowling history, the Board of Directors of the United States Bowling Congress announced its intentions to relocate the organization's headquarters to Arlington, Texas, where it will reside with the Bowling Proprietors Association of America.

    The property is located at 621 Six Flags Drive, across the street from "Six Flags Over Texas", in the heart of Arlington's entertainment and sports district. It is about three blocks east of Ranger's Ball Park in Arlington, home of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and about six blocks east of the new Dallas Cowboys stadium set to open in 2009

    This dramatic move was the topic of my last column; one that was regarded as somewhat controversial. On one side, I was accused of favoring the USBC. At the same time, a few members of the BPAA cast aspersions upon me.

    Who was it that said, "You can't have it both ways"?

    I tried to be as impartial as possible. I realized each party had a vested interest in this matter. I also feel that each side was acting in the best interests of bowling. After all, we take pride in ourselves as a "family".

    I'm sure the relocation of the USBC headquarters will be better for the game in the long run. After all, the new complex will include a 12-to-16 lane combined equipment testing and international bowling center to form a $14 million international bowling campus.

    The BPAA has pledged to pay for half the complex while utilizing less than one-fifth of the space. That's quite a pledge. Additionally, the USBC was further lured by an "offer they couldn't refuse"; a $693,000.00 award from the Texas Enterprise Fund.

    The TEF was created by the Texas state legislature in 2003 and re-appropriated funding in 2005 and 2007 to help insure growth of Texas businesses.

    In addition to the USBC and BPAA, the bowling campus will include The Bowling Foundation; Strike Ten Entertainment; International Pro Shops and Instructors Association; The Bowling Center Management School; and the Bowling and Billiard Institute of America; which are currently located at BPAA's headquarters.

    Add to this, the possibility of luring the PBA headquarters to this area, plus the relocation of the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum to the complex. The creation of an international bowling complex at such a high profile location will provide the opportunity to showcase bowling to the world as no other sport in our country.

    Of course, there is a downside to this major move. Approximately 200 USBC employees face the decision to move to Texas. Many of them have served the ABC/WIBC/USBC for 20 or more years. Many have roots in Milwaukee while others previously relocated to Milwaukee. Some are close to retirement age.

    Anyone with any degree of compassion can sympathize with these loyal USBC staffers. Yet, in the current American business world, it is the nature of the beast. It is happening every day.

    In order to state the position of each side, I spoke to officials of both organizations. In the business world, mergers and "takeovers" are usually the result of losses in revenue or poor management of the company being usurped. However, this is neither a merger nor a takeover. According to both organizations, it did not involve financial conditions.

    Jeff Boje', who is the head honcho of the USBC and is also a Past President of the BPAA, stated the BPAA was in excellent financial condition, with surpluses of well into the millions in their treasury.

    The USBC, whose financial records are open to any member, had a positive budget of more than $3 million in 2006-07 and are budgeted to be just above even in 2007-08. USBC tournaments overall are budgeted to profit more than $2 million in 2007-08. Additionally, the value at the present USBC location is estimate between $7 and $8 million. Therefore, the financial status of either organization played no role in the relocation of the USBC.

    Obviously, there were greater motives involved. According to BPAA President Joe Schumacker, "The concept of integrating the operation of the BPAA and USBC makes sense. Bowling has changed dramatically over the past 25 years. It is imperative the organizations embrace change so they can continue to professionally support their individual constituencies. By working in tandem with USBC, we can fulfill our individual missions as well as protect and grow all levels of competitive bowling. Integrations of operations can be achieved without the loss or control of the individual organizations." THEREIN LIES THE BIG CONCERN.

    "The integration of operations without the loss of control of the individual organization" has long been source of concern for USBC officials, members and supporters. However, John Berglund, the Executive Director of the BPAA, wrote me and assured me it was absolutely imperative the two organizations remain individual and separate. I'm certain this will be a most welcome and comforting statement to supporters of the USBC.

    In view of all the facts, it is my opinion that this is a win-win situation for bowling!

    A Salute to One of Our Own…..Joe Lyou

    2007BowlExpoJoeLyou.jpgWriting bowling columns have become second nature to me…. except for this one.

    Tuesday, March 22, I was informed that my great friend and adopted brother, Joe Lyou (pictured), passed away in his sleep in Santa Paula, Ca. He had just driven back from Las Vegas after attending the Golden Ladies Tournament at the Orleans Hotel and Casino.

    Two days prior to his passing, I spoke to Joe. I told him that Dick Evans was coming to our home on April 19th to the 22nd (in time for my birthday, April 21st) and invited him to join us. Inasmuch as we've had these visits on numerous occasions, he accepted my invitation and told me to make his room reservation. We have two guest bedrooms; the "Red Room", which was always reserved for Joe, and the "Blue Room", always reserved for Dick Evans.

    I could probably write a book on the great times I've had with Joe and my other two adopted brothers, Dick Evans and Chuck Pezzano. It is little wonder we were referred to as the Four Amigos. Inasmuch as amigos is the Spanish translation for friends, perhaps the Four Hermanos may have been more appropriate. Hermanos is the Spanish translation for brothers; and that's who we were.

    I have so many wonderful memories since this "brotherhood" began. One time especially stands out in my mind. All of us were gathered at my home in El Cajon, California. Unfortunately, on the very first day of our visit, four of us came down with the flu; my wife Brenda, Dick, Joe, and myself. I mean…we were in bed, down and out sick as dogs….Chuck Pezzano was the only one who dodged the bullet. He had to literally take care of us for three or so days. After all he had to put up with, I'm sure he was really glad to get back to his home in New Jersey! But…that's who we were. We stuck together like glue, through the good times and bad times….

    The root of the bondage between us was/is our love of bowling and our love of writing about bowling. Chuck in the east, (New Jersey), Dick in the south (Daytona Beach), and Joe and I in California. Although we four were considered as one, there are several other "bowling family friends" who loved Joe and regularly shared each other's company.

    At bowling events too numerous to list, you could always find Joe at "our table" with faithful friends such as Pearl Keller, Hazel McLeary, Elaine Hagin, Joan Feinblum, Bea Goodwin, and Joan Romeo. Joe was Robin Romeo's greatest fan.

    Joe was the epitome of the "Strong, Silent type". You could add another "S" word along with Strong and Silent…"Stubborn". If he made up his mind, there was no changing it.

    One of the best-kept secrets in the bowling world was Joe's proficiency as an editor. Bob Johnson and Dick Evans, two of the greatest bowling writers ever, penned two of the most touching and eloquent columns in Joe's memory. Both Johnson and Evans hailed Joe's editorial expertise. Johnson, in particular, was lavish in crediting Joe Lyou for his success in the journalism field. Those who are familiar with Bob Johnson's writing ability concede that Mr. Lyou did a darn good job with his protégé.

    Joe was a very humble, quiet, individual. His greatest qualities were his love of family and friends; and his strength of heart and mind. I don't think he ever realized the impact he had on his fellow men.

    Now, he can look down from his heavenly perch and be proud of all the wonderful tributes in his honor that have circulated throughout the country via e-mails and phone calls.

    Joe… Your brothers, Chuck, Dick, and I and Brenda, miss you so much already. Your writing and your loving friendships have touched so many lives; more than you ever imagined.

    May your soul rest in peace.