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Bowling icon Ken Borshell completes 30 years in leagues

Ken Borshell has been traveling to the Valley from Palm Desert to bowl.
Ken Borshell has been traveling to the Valley from Palm Desert to bowl.
Fred Eisenhammer

There were no tears and there were no cheers.

Ken Borshell left AMF Woodlake Lanes in Woodland Hills quietly and alone Tuesday night – probably just the way he wanted.

Borshell, a true bowling league icon, had just completed his 30th year of league bowling in the San Fernando Valley, the last 18 coming when he’s traveled from way far out of the area.

The past 10 years Borshell has driven in from Palm Desert and the previous eight, he’s made the long trek from Bakersfield.

Borshell said Tuesday that enough was enough.

At age 76, he wasn’t planning to make that long-distance, weekly trek again – even if it meant he wasn’t going to reunite for three games of bowling and frivolity with longtime teammates Randy Silverman, Larry Menzer and Cecil Fine.

“I’d come back, but it’s too expensive. I’m not making a lot of money anymore,” he said with a smile.

In 2007, Ken sold his highly profitable life insurance medical business to Fortune 500 company Quest Diagnostics. He still works as the owner of his unsecured business loan company.

“It keeps you young,” he said.

It also keeps Borshell youthful to socialize with his close friends through the years. Fine has enjoyed bowling with Borshell for 30 years.

“He’s great,” Fine said of Borshell. “Ken’s very serious bowling, but he’s a lot of fun.”

The right-handed Borshell, known for his wit and friendly nature, has blasted a 276 game and averaged an excellent 176 at Mission Bowl during the 2007-08 season.

But he said his biggest highlight had nothing to do with his bowling scores or the trophies that he’s won.

“It’s just having a good time with the guys,” he said. “I’m going to keep playing poker with them [in the Valley once a month]. I won’t give that up.”

After bowling in the Valley, Borshell stays overnight at a hotel before returning to Palm Desert.

“He should get an award for mileage,” said Perry Haberman, who bowls in the same “Guys and Dolls” league at Woodlake Lanes as Borshell.

Added Tom Foley: “He has a helluva commute. We’re going to miss him.”

Fine is quick to point out that Borshell could still change his mind and return.

“He drives in from Palm Desert and every week, he says he’s done. ‘I quit.’ But he’ll be back,” Fine said.

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