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99-year-old Ripon woman among league bowlers

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99-year-old Ripon woman among league bowlers

Barbara VanTol celebrated her 99th birthday Thursday by bowling on her Senior League team at Manteca Bowl.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED February 19, 2014 12:55 a.m.

Barbara Van Tol kicked off the Thursday Senior League at the Manteca Bowl and Family Fun Center by rolling a strike.

Not bad for someone who just turned 99.

“Bowling keeps her young,” said her son, Jon Van Tol.

He along with his sister, Fonda, bowl with their mother on the family team, the Dolphins.

Just two frames after her strike, Barbara Van Tol was left with the infamous 7-10 pin split. 

She missed picking up the difficult spare but, in the end, still maintained her 115 average (based on 66 games).

Jon noted that his mother also stays active with other activities.

“She goes to church every Sunday and is involved in the (Ripon) Senior Center,” he said.

Added Fonda: “Mom does her crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, and she used to read every day (before eye problems).”

If she had it her way, Barbara would be bowling twice a week, according to Manteca Bowl’s Annette Medlin.

She is currently in charge of the two Senior Leagues, taking over from John Lewis about 1 ½ years ago.

Barbara Van Tol of Ripon is one of seven bowlers over 80 in the Thursday Senior League. Fifty-six bowlers over 50 compete regularly, including Jon and Fonda, in that league.

The Tuesday Senior League has 144 bowlers, with 16 being over age 80. “We’re like a family here,” said Medlin.

Van Tol has been bowling locally for over 25 years. Her best game was 200.

“Our mother will be the first to say she can beat both me and my sister,” said Jon, who has been playing in the Senior League for the past six years.

Last Sunday, she celebrated her birthday with family in Ripon. On Thursday, she did likewise but with her extended family at the Manteca Bowl.

Barbara Van Tol was born on Feb. 12, 1915 in the Midwest. She lived in Minnesota, Michigan and Iowa before moving west.

The family – this included her husband and four children, Lee, Fonda, Jon and Gary (he was killed in Vietnam) – moved to Ripon in 1960. “She still lives in that same house (on Wilma Avenue),” said Jon.

Fonda, who is in her third year with the Dolphins, indicated that her mother looks forward to Thursdays. “Bowling is the highlight of her week,” she said.

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