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Amy Lybeck and Other Bowlers


Today would have been Amy Lybeck’s 90th birthday. She was born in 1916 to Justin and Olga Georgeson in Heimdal, and grew up with her eight siblings on her parents’ farm near Maddock.

Amy was an outstanding student, graduating as valedictorian of her class and lettering in track and basketball. When she later moved to Fargo, she worked at the Fargo Café and also for the Dakota Tractor Company. She married her husband, Earl Lybeck, in 1942, and together they raised three children.

The special thing about Amy was that you couldn’t keep her down. For example, she loved ballroom dancing, and for a while, beginning in the 1960s, she and several other Fargo-Moorhead women did a Roaring ‘20s Charleston routine around town, including appearances on WDAY’s Party Line.

Then there were her two favorite sports – golfing and bowling. Even when she was in her 80s, she would often golf 18 holes in the morning and then play another round or two in the afternoon.

Amy’s 2003 obituary read, “Her hobbies didn’t stop there. When Amy wasn’t golfing, bowling, walking, or doing volunteer work at her church, she would knit, and knit and knit. Amy loved knitting, but more than that, she loved giving her work away. It will never be known the hundreds, if not thousands, of booties, scarf’s (sic), golf hoods, sweaters, afghans and stocking caps she has knit for friends, acquaintances and occasionally individuals who she will never have the pleasure of meeting.”

Amy didn’t start her true addiction – bowling – until she was past forty, but then played as though to make up for lost time. For the next forty years or so, there were weeks when she bowled seven days a week – morning, afternoon and evening. In 2002, she was inducted into the FM Bowling Hall of Fame. She died the following year, at age 87, following a battle with cancer.

The year Amy was inducted into the Hall of Fame, another area woman bowler was making news at the Women’s International Bowling Congress Championship Tournament in Milwaukee. Nearly 42,000 bowlers competed in the tournament, competing for prizes totaling almost $1.4 million. Kathy Pausch, of Fargo-Moorhead, became the national champion in the Division 1 singles by rolling 206, 209, and 267-point games, for a series total of 682.

In 1998, another newsworthy bowler, Missy Miller of Bismarck, became the state’s highest all-time scorer in women’s bowling, scoring 846. In fact, Miller holds the nation’s fifth highest record for a 4-game series for women, at 1,113 points.

North Dakota also holds a couple records under “Statistics and Oddities” in the Bowler’s Encyclopedia, which is used by the U.S. Bowling Congress. In 1979-80, a women’s Bismarck team called 178 Capitol Janitorial had the distinction of playing a duplicate game – that is, all four members of the team had identical scores in one game.

Also in the “oddities” category are three Bismarck women who grabbed the distinction of all winning state titles and also being. . . sisters. Elma Kavonius won the WBA Tournament in 1951 and ‘54; Elna Kanvonius won the championship in ‘56 and ‘59; and sister Helen Kavonius took the title in ‘62, ‘69 and ‘73.

Written by Merry Helm