Bowler keeps on rolling through golden years 

The bowler gazes down the alley to the pins, gracefully glides to the line and rolls a strike in her final practice throw. A hint of a smile appears behind Sue Shimosaka’s serious brow.

Moments later, she accepts a congratulatory low-five from one of her Nikkei Invitational Mixed Trio teammates after picking up a 3-10 split in the first frame of the evening. 

“I’d like to issue a challenge to anyone in the world who is 93 or older,” Serra Bowl general manager Mike Leong said. “I haven’t seen anyone better than Sue.”

Her current average of 150 is a few pins below last season’s 154, but Shimosaka, considered a competitive bowler at any age but at 93 a marvel, is certain to bowl plenty of strikes at Turkey Bowl X. 

For each strike rolled at Tuesday’s event, Serra Bowl will provide a turkey for a Bay Area family in need. Leong indicates that, over the span of the nine previous Turkey Bowls, 10,000 turkeys have been donated.

A native of Southern California, Shimosaka moved to San Francisco in 1945 after spending four years in a Japanese internment camp. 

She took up bowling in 1956, a few years after the birth of her third child.

The 4-foot-10 retired stenographer bowls three days a week; she also bowls three games on Tuesday nights at the Nikkei Invitational, and on Sundays she plays nine holes of golf.

Shimosaka maintains her bowling-golf conditioning by working in the garden of her Richmond district home and by maintaining a healthy diet. 

“I dig the weeds out and stuff,” she said. “And I try to eat a lot of fruits and salads everyday.” 

Always an athlete, Shimosaka played baseball with her brothers, was a high school pole vaulter and high jumper, and according to son Ken, was quite a force on the tennis court. But bowling has been her mainstay for the past 54 years.

“She has a lot better form than I do,” her son said. “She has a nice pendulum swing, and a nice backswing.”

At Turkey Bowl X, Leong may ask Shimosaka to participate in the “zany shot” portion of the event with the other celebrities. Regardless of her role, the nonagenarian with the high average will be focused on rolling strikes and increasing the donated turkey count.

The soft-spoken bowler shares her wisdom with others who may wish to compete into their ’90s.
“Be active, be in sports, keep your body moving,” she said.


Charity Turkey Bowl X

WHEN: Tuesday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 

WHERE: Serra Bowl, 3301 Junipero Serra Blvd., Daly City (across from BART)

TURKEYS FOR STRIKES: Benefits St. Anthony Dining Room in San Francisco and the North Peninsula Food Pantry and Dining Center

INFO: (650) 992-3444 or

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David Liepman

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