PBA Hall of Famer and Senior Tour standout Gene Stus died Monday (Aug. 18) at age 74.
As a competitive bowler for most of his adult life, Stus had always wondered how he might have done on the PBA Tour. But the opportunity to compete in Tour competition didn’t present itself until he was able to retire from General Motors after 32 years at the age of 50 and became a regular on the Senior Tour, now called the PBA50 Tour.
Even as a late-bloomer in the professional ranks, Stus’ career on the Senior Tour would ultimately lead to his induction into the PBA Hall of Fame in 2012.
Stus’ 11 Senior Tour titles ranks fifth on the all-time list behind fellow Hall of Famers John Handegard with 14 titles, Gary Dickinson, Dale Eagle and Tom Baker, each with 12.
In 1992, Stus earned Senior Player of the Year honors thanks in part to winning two titles. In July of that year he became the first Senior Tour player to bowl a 300 game on national television, defeating Don Gilman, 300-188, in the Pacific Cal Bowl Senior Open in Lakewood, Calif.
“It was an honor to bowl with the sport’s greats who I admired my whole life and I always wondered how I would measure up,” said Stus, in his Hall of Fame acceptance speech. “When I was able to retire at 50, I started to get back to bowling seriously and found I still had the touch.
“Bowling on the Senior Tour was a lot more than achieving the dream of bowling with the greats of the game,” he added. “Just to be around them and to remember all the fun we had on and off the lanes for those years was an experience I’ll never forget.”
Stus had 50 top-five finishes in 173 PBA50 Tour appearances. He also owned one PBA Regional title and six PBA50 Regional titles.
According to good friend and fellow PBA member Dave Bernhardt, Stus died as a result of a long-standing heart condition.
Stus, elected to the USBC Hall of Fame in 2009, was a three-time USBC Open Championships titlist (1987 Team All-Events title, 1990 Team title, 1992 Doubles title). He was also a member of the Taylor Sports Hall of Fame, the Greater Detroit Bowling Association Hall of Fame, and the Michigan State Bowling Association Hall of Fame.
Stus is survived by his wife Sally, son Troy, stepson Gary Tis, grandchildren Cayla, Chris, D.J., Cody and Nolan, and two great grandchildren.