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Pottruff bowled us over with her dedication

Commentary

My impulse was to call the Heaven Herald sports editor and give him a heads up. There's a bowling publicist relocating upstairs. A relentless, roll-up-her-sleeves, don't-take-no-for-an-answer PR machine.

Then I came to my senses: The phone would be busy.

Can you imagine how many perfect games are bowled in heaven?

Do you think Dona Pottruff would allow even one to go unrecognized?

I bet she's up there now, pushing people around and making sure the scores are right and in the paper, chuckled Scharie Bostrom.

— Pottruff, who fought pancreatic cancer for 1&

189; years, died Saturday at the age of 72. In addition to her husband, Earl, sons Jeff and Michael and other family, the Central Point woman leaves behind countless friends in the bowling community.

If you or someone you know has been in the paper for anything related to bowling, she likely was the reason.

For roughly four decades, Pottruff, a junior coach and accomplished bowler herself, gathered scores from local houses, jotted them down on notebook paper, stationery or anything else handy and got them to the newspaper.

When someone rolled a terrific game or a big series, she was on the phone reporting it almost as it happened. One call, two calls, three calls in an evening. Whatever it took.

Have a tournament? She'd submit results.

When junior bowlers of the year were named, she paraded the kids here to have their pictures taken and put in print.

A wisp of a woman with boundless energy and vast conviction, Pottruff's might was unmatched when it came to trumpeting bowling, be it to the newspaper or television stations.

Bostrom, a top bowler who was coached by Pottruff in the 1960s, struggled to find words that accurately portray what Pottruff meant to Rogue Valley bowling.

She loved bowling, and if you did well, she wanted to make sure you got recognized for that, said Bostrom. I think she's in a league of her own. There are two people who come to my mind who have done so much for bowling. That's Dona and Andy (Anderson). I can't imagine anyone being anywhere near that.

Jeff Pottruff, who lives in Medford and works in the Cancer Center at Providence Medford Medical Center, said as much as his mother loved bowling, she cherished the people involved even more.

Her passion for reporting scores began when the had a Pinfare bowling award. Bowlers who made the paper most often in a season for shooting high scores received the annual award.

Dona Pottruff won it in 1969, the same year son Jeff did so in junior bowling.

She knew how hard it was to make the paper, said Jeff. That really is what sparked her interest in getting scores in the newspaper.

As often as she deserved to be celebrated, Pottruff shunned the spotlight.

In 1983, she was inducted into the Medford Women's Bowling Association Hall of Fame for meritorious service. Eighteen years later, she received the state association's Distinguished Service Award.

When Pottruff received the latter, she deflected attention.

When she gave her thank-you speech, recalled Kris Schultz, the Medford association secretary, it wasn't about her. She bragged on Scharie and Marshall (Holman) and all the people she knew. She was promoting bowling, not herself.

Shirley Knight, long a teammate, including in doubles tournaments, remembered the two winning the city tournament a couple of times.

Pottruff usually carried the team, but you wouldn't know it.

She was a great encourager, said Knight. She could kind of get you to do things you didn't know you could. I never thought I was that good of a bowler, but I got better when I bowled with her.

Pottruff was also known for spreading cheer throughout the bowling centers.

She was always giving people birthday cards and getting them signed, said Knight. I don't know how she got to everybody. But that was one of her good touches in life.

Apart from bowling, Pottruff loved to exercise and care for her cats.

She'd sometimes run eight or 10 miles in a day, several days a week, said Jeff Pottruff. Other times, she finished running and jumped on a bike for a long ride.

We tried to get her to run the Pear Blossom or in Portland, said Jeff, but she really just wanted to do it as her private thing. It was her time and space.

Her pets were another favorite pastime. Many of her cats adopted her, said Jeff Pottruff, and when a nearby family moved and left cats behind, she walked down and fed them.

When she wasn't able to go feed them anymore, he said, they came to her. They knew right where to find her.

Now she's in a different place.

A better place, said Schultz, but we're sure going to miss her.

Dona Pottruff, shown at Roxy Ann Lanes in 2001, was a huge bowling advocate in the Rogue Valley. She died Saturday at age 72. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven