- Associated Press - Monday, February 2, 2015

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (AP) - While bowling in the Over the Hill League at Camelot Bowl in Collinsville recently, Irene Wilkinson of Granite City recorded a turkey.

On Wednesday, still not for sure what it was called but knowing that her streak of three strikes in a row was an accomplishment, Wilkinson was one happy lady -a lady who turned 99 on Christmas Eve and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

“Is three strikes in a row called a turkey? Wilkinson asked as she proudly displayed the score sheets. “What do I like most about bowling? Throwing strikes… of course!

With her 77-year-old son Larry Kessler among those keeping close tabs on Wilkinson, she bowled well again Wednesday. Starting her day with three spares, Wilkinson had games of 114, 99 and 149 to finish with a series of 362.

“She just keeps hanging in there. My mom is a pretty amazing lady. At least that’s what she keeps telling me,” Kessler said, laughing. “She’s always said that her goal was to be bowling when she’s 100. I have no doubt that she’ll make it.

“A while back she said “I don’t know if I’ll make 99.’ I’m like don’t give me that. You were saying the same thing when you were 80.”

A native of Salem, Mo., Wilkinson had three children and altogether has 51 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Wilkinson began bowling 50 years ago and now hits the lanes every Monday and Wednesday in leagues at Camelot Bowl.

“I had always wanted to bowl and I still can. It’s fun and I enjoy being around people. It keeps me going,” Wilkinson said. “The only problem I have is my right knee. Sometimes I have to put a bandage on it for support. But there are times when I don’t wear it at all.

“Am I a good bowler? I think I do well. My average is about 109 and I think I had a game of 169 last year which is my high. Last week, when I had my turkey, I had a 159. I just love to bowl. I’ve always said I wanted to bowl when I’m 100. I hope I can.”

In her adult life, Wilkinson spent time working at Granite City Steel and worked as a cook in schools.

“That was the best job in the world. I loved being around the kids. They keep you young,” Wilkinson said. “I was at a party a couple of weeks ago and two of the people there were students when I was a cook. “They remembered me because I would always save them hot french fries and candy. They would always hurry down to get those hot french fries.”

When she is not bowling at Camelor Bowl on Monday and Wednesday, Wilkinson spends time at the two lodges that she belongs too. She also enjoys attending church services on Sunday.

“I go to Sunday school and church. I pray for my grandchildren,” Wilkinson said.

Larry Kessler’s prayers have no doubt already been answered. He still has his mom in his life, happy, active and more imprtantly healthy and going strong at 99.

“My mom is a lot of things. She loves to be the center of attention and that’s fine. It keeps her going,” Kessler said. “I think her biggest concern in bowling is that she’s going to throw a gutter ball. Heck, we all do that. The professionals do that sometimes. She does just fine.”

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Source: Belleville News-Democrat, https://bit.ly/1yuiQ0X

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Information from: Belleville News-Democrat, https://www.bnd.com

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