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Jim Russell – a Remarkable 300
by Mary Lynly

Jim Russell’s love affair with bowling began at four years old in the Peanut League when mom, who was a coach, signed him up to keep him from running all over the bowl. It worked in more ways than one. She knew where he was and peace of mind.

He joined the air force where he spent 22 years and he married his wife Lori. He didn’t have a lot of opportunities to bowl, one of the better ones being six years in Alaska. In 2004, while stationed in England he began having seizures and headaches and after numerous MRI’s it was determined he had a brain tumor which turned out to be cancerous. After more MRI’s and watching “it” the medical staff decided it needed to be removed and they did a craniotomy on September 4, 2005 – better known to the lay people as cutting one’s head open! They removed the tumor which left Jim with a balance problem. The 150 staples came out and he healed and was eventually able to go back to bowling. He received an honorable discharge from the air force and officially retired in 2005 and he took a year off of bowling.

Now bowling again Jim had established himself as an elite bowler and currently carries a 213 average. But 13 years later, to his chagrin, he began having headaches again and as many as 100 seizures a day. Again he had the continuous MRI’s. The tumor turned out to be golf ball size and cancer - surgery was imminent – after summer league he said! After his first surgery he had a lengthy recovery, lost his driver’s license and dealt with the balance problem so he hoped he might escape those problems this time. He had another craniotomy on Sept 4, 2018, just 13 years after the first one.

He said this surgery went better this time and of course, his first question was, “When can I bowl?” They said – five to six weeks – a lifetime. They had told him the odds for survival were slim but soon the 42 staples were removed, he healed and after the prescribed wait he actually practiced three games. The 100 seizures a day were going away and he was feeling pretty good. He was grateful for the Medicare and Tri-care insurance coverage he had from the military because the cost was considerable. Chemo or radiation is being considered. Finally, he could bowl.

His first game back was as a sub in the Storm Challenge league at Fireside Lanes in Citrus Heights. He was concerned about his balance but started with five strikes and he felt pretty good. And then there were seven. He had a 300 a year ago on Lane 9-10 and here he was, once again on lane 9-10. He had also had his share of 299’s – that illusive final strike had haunted him. He thought, “Can I go sheet?” He was not to be denied and Jim Russell shot 300 his very first game back, one month after his ominous surgery!

You have heard the saying, “It’s not brain surgery!” Maybe it is.


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