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Flora Mitchell, USBC Hall of Fame member, dies at age 89

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Flora Mitchell of Ash Grove, Missouri, a United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame member who served as the Women’s International Bowling Congress executive secretary-treasurer from 1975 to 1991, died on Tuesday. She was 89.

Mitchell joined the WIBC board in 1971, serving two years, before taking the position of WIBC Assistant Secretary/Treasurer in 1973 under Freda Botkin. When Botkin retired in 1975, Mitchell became the seventh woman to serve as WIBC Assistant Secretary/Treasurer, a position she held until her retirement in 1991.

Mitchell was a competitive athlete in the 1950s and 1960s, playing first base on a fast-pitch softball team that won several state titles. She also played tennis, winning numerous local titles, and volleyball. She enjoyed bass fishing and golfing, telling Woman Bowler magazine upon her retirement, “I plan on doing a lot of bass fishing, and I will never, never give up the sport of bowling.”

On the lanes, she won the Springfield (Missouri) Women’s Bowling Association (WBA) all-events title in 1961, doubles in 1955 and four team titles (1956, 1957, 1960, 1965). She also won the Greater Milwaukee WBA doubles title and the 1988 GMWBA seniors singles and all-events titles. She posted her career-high league average of 192 during the 1967-1968 season.

She made her 50th and final appearance at the USBC Women’s Championships in 2012 in Reno, Nevada, taking part in the opening ceremony and rolling the ceremonial first ball to kick off the tournament.

She was elected to the USBC Hall of Fame for Meritorious Service in 1995.

Born Sept. 29, 1929, Mitchell left Springfield, Missouri, at the age of 19 for a secretarial position with the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C., and, after a brief return to work at the VA hospital in Springfield so she could care for her mother, Mitchell returned to Washington and a position with the Atomic Energy Commission.

She decided to return to Springfield in 1952, taking a secretary position with an ophthalmologist and later expanded her role to assist three corporations that managed a medical village, a pharmacy and rental properties. She also started bowling and competed in as many as five leagues in one season.

Encouraged to become involved in the administrative side of bowling, she served as secretary for the Springfield WBA in 1964, a position she would hold for four years. She then joined the Springfield WBA board from 1969-1971.

She would serve as a Missouri State WBA director from 1961-1966, before taking the reins as president from 1966 until 1973, when she joined the WIBC staff.

She is a member of the Missouri Sports, the Missouri State USBC and the Springfield Women’s Bowling Association Halls of Fame. The Missouri State USBC renamed its Director of the Year Award in her honor a few years ago.

Visitation will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at Greenlawn Funeral Home North. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home, with burial to follow at Rose Hill Cemetery, near Willard, Missouri.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Harold Baptist Church Building Fund, 11655 North Farm Road 51, Walnut Grove, MO 65770.

Herbert Bickel

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