Little did Dolly Zitur know, but a gift she received on Dec. 24, 1957, turned into a lifetime passion.
"The last thing my mother purchased on this earth before she died was a certificate for a bowling ball," Zitur said. "I've pretty much been bowling ever since then."
Zitur, of Brainerd, will be one of close to 10,000 women who will travel to Brainerd over the next 17 weeks to compete in the Minnesota State USBC Association's 58th annual women's championships.
The event begins Friday and runs through May 6 with the team event at Paul Bunyan Bowl and the singles and doubles events at Jack's House.
Zitur figures she's competed in the last 23 state tournaments and has gone to as many national tournaments.
Dolly Zitur of Brainerd will be among nearly 10,000 women who will compete over the next 17 weekends in the Minnesota State USBC Association Women's Bowling Tournament in Brainerd. Brainerd Dispatch/Nels Norquist » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"The state tournament is really a big deal," said Zitur, who is also president of the Brainerd/Baxter United States Bowling Congress Women's Bowling Association. "First off, it's just really fun to meet a lot of different women who come to down. Second, we like the competition and third it's just fun to get out and be a part of this.
"A big bunch of us girls have been going to nationals for years and years and years. We just like the competition."
In addition to the competition, Zitur enjoys the camaraderie with friends and other bowlers. She said she's never gone to a state tournament and had a bad time.
"We all go out for supper afterward," Zitur said, "and we start gabbing about how good we bowled and how bad we did too. One team from Brainerd this year is going to rent a limo, go bowling, and then go out afterward. They're going to have a lot of fun."
Zitur will compete in singles, doubles and the team competition, but not until April. On New Year's Eve she fell and injured her wrist.
"One of the first things I asked my doctor was when I'd be able to bowl," she said.
Minnesota State USBC Association bowling tournament
When: Friday through May 6
Team event: Paul Bunyan Bowl (shift times Fridays 1 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m., 2 and 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., Sundays 9:30 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.)
Singles and doubles: Jack's House (Fridays 11 a.m., 2:15 and 6 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m., 3 and 6:15 p.m., Sundays 9 a.m., 12:15 and 4:15 p.m.)
Zitur's passion for bowling began at a young age. Her parents were into the sport so she spent a lot of time hanging around the lanes with them. She then took a job as a pinsetter at a local bowling house and had no problem keeping up with the boys.
"The boys gave me a hard time," Zitur said. "But I was as fast as them so they had to put up with me. I was also good at it, too.
"My mom and dad started bowling late in life but they really developed my love for bowling. They were into the sport big time."
Zitur and her husband, Donald, who've lived in Brainerd since 1970, have 12 grandchildren and she's passed her love of bowling on to them.
"I've given every one of the grandkids a bowling ball," Zitur said. "About four of them are really good bowlers. I'll bowl with them when we visit and it's really special to be able to share that with them."
Zitur also doesn't see herself slowing down any time in the near future. In addition to bowling, Zitur has been a member of the Geritol Frolics for the past three years and the Golden Kicks for four years.
"I just don't believe anyone should slow down once they retire," she said.
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5865.
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