Kodiak’s Joyce Gregory may not be able to partake in this year’s Alaska Women’s State Bowling Tournament, but she did receive the state’s highest honor Saturday night.
Gregory was the lone 2012 inductee into the Alaska Women’s Bowling Hall of Fame, which was revealed during opening ceremonies of the 52nd state tournament at Tropic Lanes.
Gregory wiped tears from her eyes when her name was announced to the capacity crowd inside her home house.
“This means everything,” Gregory said. “It’s with an elite group of women around the state. It ranks up there.”
Gregory, enshrined for meritorious service, is the 27th member of the hall of fame, which was started in 1984. She joins Gladene Stewart and Mona Johnson as the only other Kodiak bowlers in the elite group.
Stewart, who passed away in 2006, was a member of the hall’s inaugural class in 1984, while Johnson, who still bowls in Kodiak, was elected in 1989.
Gregory put an end to Kodiak’s 23-year drought of not having anyone inducted.
“It is a big deal,” longtime Kodiak bowler Ruth Hentges said. “We are a small house and a small organization, and along with it comes that special shirt that says hall of fame.”
Gregory had her Achilles tendon reattached in January and accepted her HOF plaque wearing a walking boot on her left foot.
“I was totally shocked,” Gregory said. “There is so many deserving women out there, I had no clue.”
Gregory, though, had a hunch it was her when Alaska USBC Women’s Bowling Association president Marcie Bentti told the crowd that this year’s inductee was deeply rooted in helping Special Olympics.
Gregory was the driving force behind the startup of Special Olympics bowling in Kodiak.
“They were bowling, but it wasn’t an organized thing,” Gregory said. “They were just going out and doing it for fun. I formatted it and got it into a league form, which is what they are doing now.”
Gregory was also involved at the state level, entering scores for more than 300 bowlers each week.
“I took on the whole state until they got somebody else to do it,” she said.
Most of all, Gregory enjoyed working with the athletes.
“I remember being up at the games in Fairbanks and this one lady got a seventh-place ribbon and she was so excited and crying that I started wiping tears away myself,” Gregory said. “Everything makes them so happy and excited.”
Her involvement in Special Olympics was one of the main reasons she was inducted.
“She would do extra duty and beyond her actual duties that she did and also her passion for the Special Olympics statewide were all important factors,” Bentti said.
Debbie Olson, a longtime fixture in the Kodiak bowling community, nominated Gregory, while the current HOF members voted her into their club.
“It’s always nice when somebody gets inducted in their own house,” Olson said. “She is deserving of it. It is unfortunate that she wasn’t able to bowl. She commits herself and works hard.”
Gregory, a member of Kodiak’s Bowling Hall of Fame, has served on local and state bowling boards for more than a decade. She has also won several state tournament titles since moving to Kodiak in the late 1970s.
Gregory was also named the second vice president of the state’s women’s bowling association during Saturday’s opening ceremonies.
She now only has one more bowling accomplishment to achieve.
“The only thing else that is my dream is to someday bowl a 300,” Gregory said. “I’ve had 11 strikes out of 12 and never that last one. That would be the ultimate.”
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at sports@kodiak