Fit 94-year-old bowling hot for half a century

Sandra Ward, Reporter


At a petite stature of no more than five-feet tall, Sunny Kennedy happens to be a dedicated senior league bowler competing in three separate senior leagues three days a week at the Regency Bowling Lanes in Bakersfield.

There is something quite unique about this particular senior bowler that may just surprise and inspire those beginners and all bowling enthusiasts alike.

She is 94 years old, and holds a bowling average that some might consider decent enough to brag about.

In her graceful style, Kennedy’s bowling average on one league is a 138, and she bowls with a 12-pound ball. But she spoke of the time when she bowled a 299 game about five years ago in her late ’80s.

Kennedy has bowled at Regency for a long time and won’t bowl anywhere else. “The bowlers are such good people,” she said, and she loves the game. When approaching the subject of her age, Kennedy stated with a little chuckle in her voice, “I’m older than anybody here.” She always expresses a happy demeanor and energetic enthusiasm for the game. “It’s so much easier to smile than to frown,” she said.

Yet, she also expresses her disappointment whenever she bowls a frame that’s not quite up to her standards.

Kennedy started bowling in 1962 when she decided golf was not the game for her. She has been a widow and her only daughter has been passed on for some time now.

Now living in a retirement community, she still has her grandchildren that she raised after her daughter passed and her popularity has proven that she has plenty of fans among her teammates and opponents at the bowling alley.

Jill Varner, a close friend of Kennedy, said Kennedy absolutely loves to bowl. “Let me tell you she bowls so darn good, she beats me every time,” said Varner.

Other activities that Kennedy enjoys are playing bingo, being on the computer, and up until about a year and a half ago, she liked to drive and show off her brand new bright red Cadillac, added Varner.

But bowling is what she really likes to do. Kennedy has lots of friends, and bowling not only gives her something to do but also allows her a chance to be among her friends.

Her bowling teammates say she is a pretty good bowler and some admit that she bowls better than they do at times. She’s even won a few league games.

If you have ever seen Kennedy bowl in her delicate manner, she makes it look so easy that you almost forget that it’s a 12-pound ball that she’s delivering each time she bowls a frame. Making a spare satisfies her and her teammates as they slap each others’ hands as if to say, “good job on that frame” and showing that when it comes to bowling, Kennedy does have a competitive side about her.

Elwood Elliot, another senior league bowler, said about Kennedy, “she is such a gracious lady and just so nice. Win or lose, she’s always got a smile on her face.”