Don Clarke was born on April 27th, 1949, in Knoxville, Tennessee. His first introduction to the sport of bowling was when his grandfather took him bowling one day, to a center that had manual pinsetters. He bowled recreationally as a youth, with his father, while serving in the Boy Scouts. He started his official bowling career while stationed in Germany, serving in the United States Army. He returned to the United States and moved to the City of Columbia, South Carolina, where he started bowling in a league at Gene Tinman’s bowling center in West Columbia. He told me that at this point, bowling “got into his blood”, as he took the time to get his certification and become a certified coach for the youth. He bowled in many leagues in Columbia from 1971 until 1987.
In 1987, he moved to the city of Rock Hill, South Carolina. He immediately joined multiple leagues at Fairfield Lanes, where he made the acquaintance of two individuals, Andy Bell and James Worthy, both of whom would have a profound effect on his bowling career. They talked him into serving as a volunteer and helping with the South Carolina State Bowling Tournament, which was held in the city of Rock Hill in 1989. He greatly enjoyed the experiences of working the state tournament and interacting with the South Carolina State board during this time, so he decided he wanted to continue to work with others, to become more involved in the background and governance area of bowling, so that he
could help others.
He decided to run for a position on the Board of Directors of the Rock Hill Bowling Association. He was elected President of the Rock Hill Bowling Association in 1990, and served several terms as President from 1990 to 2000. When his term was up as president, he continued to serve on the board as a Director with the association. He served on all committees during his tenure, and was instrumental in getting the South Carolina State Tournament to come back to Rock Hill in 1999. He worked every weekend of the state tournament that year, making sure that everything ran smoothly. He was selected as the Rock Hill Bowler of the Year in 1993, and for all of his hard work and efforts on behalf of the sport of bowling, he was elected into the Rock Hill Bowling Association Hall of Fame in the year 2000.
During this time period, he also decided to take his commitment to the sport of bowling to the next level. He was elected as a Director to the South Carolina State Bowling Association in 1995. In 1999, he was elected as the South Carolina State Bowling Association Director of the Year. In 2002, he was elected as the 2nd Vice President of the SCSBA, and after serving terms as 1st Vice President and Executive Vice President, he was elected President of the South Carolina State Bowling Association in 2005. He served as the President when the State Board and delegates made the decision to merge, and continued to take an active role in the merger process, serving on the Joint Transition Committee between the three state associations, helping to ensure that the new state association did everything necessary to receive its charter.
He has been a certified bowler with the American Bowling Congress, and now the United States Bowling Congress for over 35 years. He has a high average of 195, a high series of 724, and a high game of 286. He has shared his love for the sport of bowling with his family and friends over these many years. He and his loving wife Fran, whom he first met at Fairfield Lanes, celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary this past year. He has been employed at Controls Southeast Incorporated in Charlotte for the last 20 years.
His goal has always been to see the sport of bowling become better for everyone, and he has always been a strong supporter of getting everyone to work together to make that happen. He feels that the youth are the future for our sport, and that we all need to work together to ensure that all bowlers are represented, to help stop the membership loss, and to make sure the sport of bowling is there for the many generations to come. For him, bowling has been a life long love, and he has given back to the sport with a life long commitment. He has been active in bowling, as a bowler and then as a volunteer, for over 35 years, and he is highly respected throughout the bowling community for his dedication, his knowledge, his skill and leadership. His professional and friendly demeanor, and his honest and heartfelt approach and desire for excellence are the very definition of what a leader is supposed to be. For his many years of service, his hard work and dedication, and his commitment to serve his fellow bowlers for these many years, he was inducted into the South Carolina State Bowling Association’s Hall of Fame in 2006.