In Memoriam: Billy Hardwick

1452215_10152408124337222_1751868859_nThis past Saturday, my Uncle Bill, a PBA Hall of Famer and two-time PBA Player of the Year died of a heart attack at the age of 72.

In what is described by the PBA, as one of the greatest turnarounds in professional bowling history, my uncle, Billy Hardwick went from a rookie PBA Tour season in 1962 failing to cash in a single event, to winning four titles and becoming Player of the Year the very next season. His first major title came in the 1963 PBA National, which was followed by a PBA Tournament of Champions win in 1965 and the Bowling Proprietors Association of America All-Star (now U.S. Open) title in 1969. He won a then-record seven PBA Tour titles in 1969 to earn his second Player of the Year crown. Over his professional bowling career, he had 18 PBA Tour titles, three of which were majors that earned him PBA’s Triple Crown. He was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1977.

While our family didn’t often see my uncle, due to his travels and our families geographical distance, he still made his way into our living room each week as we watched him bowl on national television. Rated #12 in the Top 50 PBA Bowlers of all time, he bowled with an elite group of bowlers such as Earl Anthony, Dick Weber and Nelson Burton Jr..

Yet despite the fame, my uncle’s life wasn’t an easy one. He had early onset rheumatoid arthritis that caused him to leave the PBA Tour at an early age. In addition, he lost two children, who both died as infants. However, in the last couple of years of his life, he seemed to find contentment and make peace with his past.

My Uncle Bill will be missed. Our family loved him. And he made us proud. Today my thoughts and prayers go out to my dad, my aunts and my cousins. I pray that the God of all comfort would bring us all peace, as we remember and give thanks for Billy Hardwick.

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