Bowling legend dead at 75

He was one of the sport's first TV stars and a three-time bowler of year.

By wire services
Published February 15, 2005

Dick Weber, one of bowling's first national stars and a three-time bowler of the year, is dead at age 75.

He died Sunday in his sleep at his home in Florissant, Mo., said Steve James, retired executive director of the American Bowling Congress Hall of Fame. The cause was not immediately known.

Mr. Weber had just returned from the opening of the congress' championships in Baton Rouge, La. James said he spent Sunday morning with Mr. Weber, who gave no indication he was ill.

In an e-mail to the Bowlers Journal , Mr. Weber's wife, Juanita, said he began having breathing problems Sunday night. Paramedics were unable to revive him.

"He was a lot bigger than the tour," James said Monday. "He was probably the best-known bowler worldwide."

He was one of bowling's first national TV stars, at a time when ABC broadcast bowling events on Saturday afternoons. He initially drew attention as a member of the Budweisers, a five-man St. Louis squad that held the record for highest team score for decades.

In 1958, he was a founding member of the Professional Bowlers Association, and he went on to win 26 PBA Tour events and six Senior Tour events. He was named bowler of the year by the Bowling Writers Association of America in 1961, 1963 and 1965.

He bowled a match in an airplane from the New York area to Texas, on the sand at Miami Beach and was a feature attraction with unorthodox bowling shots in Manhattan on national TV shows.

"I've known Dick all my life," former bowler and TV analyst Nelson Burton Jr. said. "As far as a bowler, I don't think anybody played the sport any better than he has. There was no one I feared more in my younger years than Dick Weber. ... He had it all. When he walked into a room, it lit up. He was never boastful. He was on top of the heap at all times, and everyone liked him."

Mr. Weber was born on Dec. 23, 1929. The skinny right-hander was a postal worker in Indianapolis with a growing reputation when he was lured to St. Louis in 1955 to bowl with the Budweisers. The team, which included Ray Bluth, Don Carter, Pat Patterson and Tom Hennessey, had a record of 3,858 pins in one match that stood for more than three decades.

His son, Pete, is second on the career PBA money list. Both father and son are members of the PBA Hall of Fame. Dick Weber was also a member of the American Bowling Congress Hall of Fame.

PBA Tour commissioner Fred Schreyer called Dick Weber "a great competitor and champion, and he was an outstanding ambassador for our sport. More importantly, Dick was a truly good, compassionate person who treated everyone like family."

In addition to his wife and son Pete, Mr. Weber is survived by two other sons, Rich and John, and a daughter, Paula. His body will be cremated and there will be no memorial service.