William H. Kilbourn
Year Inducted: 1983
Bill Kilbourn was one of the best bowlers to come out of Port Huron, and he looked it.
“He had a picture-perfect form,” said Bill Vincent, secretary of the Port Huron Men’s Bowling Association. “He was a real student of the game.”
“He had real style. He was smooth and concise,” said Dorothy Mikula, Kilbourn’s sister. “He was an avid bowler, and he was the top bowler in the city for many years. He was the one who got me interested in bowling.”
Bill was a natural athlete who was a three-year letter-winner in basketball at Kingston High School. He first picked up a bowling ball in 1938 at “Cap” Emery’s Lanes when the establishment was located on Water Street. It was love at first try.
“I’m not sure how he got interested in it at first,” Mikula said. “Maybe he went in there one day.”
During the days of hard rubber balls and non-varying lane conditions, Kilbourn was a bowling wonder. He bowled in the City, the Classic and the 3-man Classic leagues.
He made the All-Association Team nine times – six consecutively – during the 1950’s and 1960’s. His 199 average during the 1949-50 season was the best in the city. He had a 185 career average. He rolled a 299 game in 1948.
Bill was twice the Match Game Singles champ and won a share of the Match Game Doubles title three times. He won the Mixed Doubles title in 1957 with his sister – rolling a 701 series in the process.
“His 185 average was a lot more spectacular then, than it would seem now,” said Vincent. It was more difficult bowling back then, and you could figure he’d surely be averaging 200 or better now. There are a lot of different kinds of balls now and the alley conditions have changed. Bowlers didn’t have a lot of options, but Bill was an expert at playing different alleys.”
That might explain why Kilbourn was so successful when he bowled in American Bowling Congress national tournaments. He bowled in 30 ABC tournaments, and his 184.30 career average is the best of any Port Huron area bowler.
His finest effort came in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1963 when he averaged 201.77 and finished with a 1,816 series.
“He really looked forward to bowling in the ABC tournament each year,” Mikula said. “The 30-year patch he received from the ABC was something special for him.”