Frank G. Longeway, 69, a well-known figure in the Toledo-area bowling scene who ran bowling centers and arranged tournaments while holding various jobs to pay for his children’s education, died Saturday at Ebeid Hospice Residence on the campus of Flower Hospital in Sylvania.
The cause of death was heart-related, an illness he had long suffered, said his wife, Cindy.
His interest in bowling began about the fifth grade at St. Charles Catholic School, as a pin setter.
Pin setters, generally teenagers, arranged the 10 pins for bowlers before mechanical devices were introduced and eliminated the job.
Bowlers often rewarded their pin setters with spare change at the end of the night, said Rob Huss, association manager for the Greater Toledo U.S. Bowling Congress.
“People would throw money down the gutter to the setters,” Mr. Huss said. “On a good night they could get maybe two bucks. That was good money in those days.”
Mr. Longeway was a volunteer director with the association for several year in the late 1990s, Mr. Huss said.
Mr. Longeway, whose friends called him Knarf — his name spelled backwards — managed or worked at bowling centers throughout Toledo and in Monroe.
Mr. Longeway founded the Across the River Team Tournament, a bowling contest staged in bowling lanes on both sides of the Maumee River, his wife said.
He was an avid volunteer, devoting much of his time with the Toledo Zoo, which named him its volunteer of the year in 2007.
Mr. Longeway was born on April 25, 1943, in Toledo to George and Frieda Longeway.
He graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1961 but never attended college. At age 20 he joined Toledo Jewelers Supply Co. and retired from the firm in 2001.
He began as a shipping clerk and worked his way up to credit manager. He left the firm to pursue his interest in bowling but later rejoined it, becoming a trainer who traveled the country on watch repairs, said his wife. He spent a combined 25 years with the company, she said.
Mrs. Longeway said her husband would work three jobs to help pay his children’s tuition.
“He worked hard, and he played hard,” his wife said. “He was working seven days a week to put the kids through private schools.”
Even after retiring from the jewelry business, he remained active as a night manager for Eastgate All-Star Lanes, said Rae Huss, who owned the now-shuttered business.
“He liked people, and he especially liked bowlers,” Mrs. Huss said.
“Bowling is kind of its own world and he was right in the middle of it,” she said. “He liked people to have a good time.”
Charlie Deck, his brother-in-law and fellow bowler, said Mr. Longeway “bowled pretty much everywhere.”
The two frequently competed in leagues at Twin Oaks on Sylvania Avenue, Mr. Deck said.
Frank and his late brother Tom competed head-to-head in the National Amateur Bowlers Inc. tournament’s championship in 1996 in Toledo.
Tom bested Frank by a handicap score of 244-207.
“I didn’t plan to play,” Frank said at the time. “I just came out to watch Tom bowl in the first squad. He talked me into bowling in the second squad, and so I did.”
The brothers advanced separately to face each other in an all-Longeway final.
“It usually doesn’t matter to me if I win or lose,” Frank told a Blade reporter. “But when I saw Tom throw six or seven strikes in a row in his semifinal, then I got serious about making the final to face him.”
He remained active, retiring from the jewelry business and beginning to volunteer at the Toledo Zoo.
“The zoo was a big part of his life,” his wife said.
He loved showing off the screech owl and would proudly display it for school groups, often arranging pictures of the bird with the children, his wife said.
He also volunteered at his parish, St. Clement Catholic Church, helping to set up the annual festival, she said.
He was involved in the parish’s Boy Scout troop and coached softball when his daughters played.
Mr. Longeway is survived by his wife, Cindy, whom he married on June 10, 2000; sons Dennis, Charlie, Bobby, and Anthony; daughters Patti Smotherman, Sheryl Deck, Tammy Turley, and Tanya Redway; stepson Michael; 17 grandchildren, and a great-grandson.
His body was donated to the University of Toledo college of medicine, the former Medical College of Ohio.
A celebration of his life will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Fraternal order of Eagles, 658 Lime City Rd., Rossford.
Memorials are suggested to St. Jude’s Hospital.
Contact Jim Sielicki at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6050.