(Photo by Lance Hanlin, Staff)
"He has been bowling for 45 years that we know of," said Sikeston District Bowling Association president Richard Vaught. "He has missed six weeks of bowling in the Tuesday Night League since 1958. That's pretty impressive."
The center celebrated Cokenhour's birthday, which was on Monday, with a cake and presented him with an engraved golden bowling pin. He also received a birthday card from the White House, signed by George and Laura Bush.
"It's just something I enjoy doing," said Cokenhour. "I played baseball all my life, and when that ended, I started bowling. I started at the old bowling alley over on Main Street back in 1957. I've seen a lot of faces come and go since then."
Cokenhour is still a competitive bowler, participating in the league every week.
"He's the oldest bowler around here," said Vaught. "I'm running a check nationally to see where he ranks among the oldest active bowlers in the organization. He holds his own. Last year, he finished with a 145 average. For his age, that's pretty exceptional."
A highlight to Cokenhour's bowling career came back in 1978, when he shot a 658 scratch series while bowling with his son in a doubles tournament.
"When I was bowling my best, they weren't shooting all these 300s like they are now," explained Cokenhour. "The balls, the lanes -- everything has changed. I've always been in it just for fun, and I will continue to bowl as long as I'm able. You never can tell, but hopefully, it will be a few more years."
Vaught feels Cokenhour's longevity is good for the sport.
"Forty-five years is a long time for anybody to compete in any sport," he said. "That's what makes bowling unique: anybody can compete regardless of their age or skill. He's a good example of that."