- Associated Press - Sunday, March 5, 2017

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - For 97-year-old Florence Ramsell, life, like bowling, is all in the approach.

Square up, focus and launch. A little bit of sass doesn’t hurt, either.

“You nailed it,” she said, slapping a high-five with a Courier (https://bit.ly/2ljJZII ) reporter visiting her at Maple Lanes bowling alley.

Ramsell, “Flo” to her friends, bowls three times a week on senior leagues at Maple Lanes.

“As far as I know, she’s the oldest bowler we’ve got,” said Terry Gabbard, a Maple Lanes supervisor. “Three times a week she’s here, and she still drives herself in her big ol’ Cadillac.”

Ramsell started bowling in 1959 when Cadillac Lanes in Waterloo opened its doors. The bowling alley offered a week’s worth of free lessons and free child care to moms. After one week, she was hooked.

“I loved it from the beginning. They told me I was a natural. I was pretty good at it. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much,” she said, grinning.

Good at it, indeed. In her early years, she boasted an average of more than 200 and a high game of 246. Asked if she celebrated that game with a beer, she said, mischievous eyebrow raised, “Just one?”

Ramsell has used the same ball for nearly six decades.

“I had it polished once,” she said matter of factly. “It’s in good shape.”

She credits clean living and a daily exercise regimen for her good health and continued strength. Every morning she does a series of sit-ups, leg lifts, crunches and push-ups.

“Real push-ups from my toes,” she emphasized.

She used to walk three miles a day until, at age 87, she had surgery for an artery blockage.

Keeping her strength up has paid off. She still launches that same 12-pound ball down the lanes with precision. A diminutive 5-feet 2-inches tall and 100 pounds soaking wet, the petite Ramsell packs a punch. She boasts a 141 average, and when The Courier visited she scored 176 in her last game of the day.

“I couldn’t believe it!” she said.

Teammates and friends can.

“You could travel anywhere in the country and couldn’t find a 97-year-old who bowls as good as she does,” said Senior Stars teammate Leo Beschorner of Waverly. “She is just really something.”

“I hope I can just walk when I’m 97,” added fellow league member Vicky Bolin of Waterloo. “She is an absolute joy to be around. When you see her you can’t help but smile.”

Ramsell said she has no major health issues and has avoided the aches and pains often associated with aging.

“And I still have my own teeth and don’t color my hair,” she said, patting her salt-and-pepper locks.

Ramsell, the mother of four (including a son who is deceased) and grandmother of five, retired from Bearing Service Co. She also previously worked at Rath Packing Co. and Black’s department store.

She bowled for years with her husband until he passed away in 2004. Now she bowls in leagues on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Maple Lanes. On Friday, her team heads to Steamboat Gardens for a beer after bowling.

“I am so blessed, I tell ya,” she said. “I’m going to keep doing this for as long as I can. I hope it inspires other people.”

Ramsell admits that while bowling is fun, she still has a competitive streak that keeps things interesting.

“I still like to beat ‘em when I can,” she said. “I don’t win as much as I used to, but then again I’m not in my 60s and 70s anymore.”


Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, https://www.wcfcourier.com

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