Stu Campbell loves to bowling. It’s a fact. It is also an understatement. Aiming at these pins and sending them flying is pure bliss.
But there’s more than that for Campbell, who turned 90 in March.
“I do it for exercise and social interaction,” he said while attributing the activity to a factor in his longevity.
“He’s very social,” said his daughter Jennifer Cook of Centerville. “He will whisper in your ear. This is what bowling does for him. It gives him that social aspect of his life. He’s the sweetest, kindest gentleman, one of the nicest people I know.
For Campbell, bowling is a workout and a good time, and continues to add fun to a life in which he served in the United States Navy, worked for a laboratory founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and launched his own business in Cape Town.
Campbell had been bowling for about 20 years when he moved to West Yarmouth in the late 1970s and started Grandpa’s Lawn Cutting. “I’ve had around 30 clients for around 30 years,” he said. “I have cut thousands of lawns.
He also played bowling a lot. Tenpin is his game, and he now competes in a summer league one night a week as a team of four at Ryan Family Amusements in South Yarmouth. But he played up to five leagues at a time, three at night and two during the day.
His enthusiasm for the game is matched only by his gregarious nature. “Stu is a good guy,” said Jack Schultz, 87, of Harwichport, a teammate and friend of Campbell. “We have a lot of fun together when we go bowling. We are two of the oldest bowlers in Cape Town that I know of.
Campbell quit bowling in March 2020, when the lanes were closed due to the pandemic, and started again in September with an added twist – bowling while wearing a mask.
It was better than sitting on the sidelines for Campbell, whose drive to excel in the sport was evident from an early age. He was born in Lexington and raised in Hanover, where he played basketball and the baseball team’s second baseman in high school, graduating in 1950.
He studied mechanical engineering for one year at Northeastern University and two years at Wentworth Institute of Technology, without graduating but learning a lot.
Campbell spent 12 years in the Navy, as an aviation electrician. Some memories persist.
There was a flight out of Weymouth 100 miles out to sea on a cold, dark night that caused Campbell to reflect on the temperature of the icy water below.
There was a dive bombing exercise in an S2F anti-submarine warfare aircraft on the target ship SS James Longstreet in Cape Cod Bay. “We were shooting five g,” said Campbell, whose job it was to check the radar when a submarine was on or near the surface.
And there was this time on another flight where the crew struggled to extend the landing gear. However, at least in this case, what went up came down safely.
After leaving the Navy, Campbell worked in configuration management at the Draper Laboratory, which was established at MIT in the 1930s to develop aeronautical instrumentation and eventually became an independent, not-for-profit engineering solutions company. .
Projects he worked on included guidance systems for NASA and the Navy. He was among those recognized for his work for NASA, receiving a medal made from molten equipment after Apollo 11, the first mission to land humans on the moon. He retired after 25 years in the lab.
Campbell introduced his five children to bowling, including his son Keith, who remembers his father arranging pillows like makeshift pins in the playroom of the family home.
“He would teach us childbirth; there’s a system, ”said Keith Campbell, who lives in East Kingston, New Hampshire, and speaks with his father at least once a week.
“We’re talking about our scores, your doing or your not doing well,” Keith said.
Stu encouraged Keith to join a junior league. The son also learned a lot from watching his father. “He was my coach, and he still is,” Keith said.
Bowlers have nicknames, the same as in other sports. Stu was bowling one night in the 1970s in Quincy, when the family lived in Weymouth, and told Keith he was hungry and wanted fried clams.
The ball slipped from Stu’s hand onto the backswing, thanks to the grease. The episode earned Stu the nickname “Clams”.
Campbell is still studying the game, always looking to improve. His lifetime bowling average is 163. He also enjoys horseshoes, golf and fishing, is an avid reader and at one point was a fairly good showdown.
Gardening is another of his favorite hobbies. He lives in a Hyannis apartment and grows tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
As varied and numerous as his interests and activities may be, Keith said, “Bowling is his big hobby.”
Contact Bill Porter at [email protected]