Age isn't just a number. It's 103-year-old bowler's score to beat.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note the real split Ed Berthol knocked down.

To help celebrate his 103rd birthday this week, Fox River Grove resident Ed Berthold did what he's been doing for more than eight decades: bowled a score far above his age.

In the fact, the World War II veteran posted a 156-pin performance during his over-50 league's weekly gathering, a performance that included knocking down a difficult 3-7 split. On the season, he's averaging a score of 116.

"When you hear about a 103-year-old bowler, you picture a hunched over decrepit little guy. But when you look at him, you'd think he's 80," said Gail Evans, the bowling league's president. "He's amazing."

Berthold got hooked on bowling while serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II. An engine fire on his B-24 bomber forced his flight crew to wait 30 days in Iceland for replacement parts. He and fellow crew members passed the time by ice fishing and bowling on ice.

His daughter, Barb Berthold, also bowls in the league and drives him between his Fox River Grove home and the Bowlero in Deer Park. She said one of the keys to both her dad's longevity and bowling prowess is his determination.

She recalls her father falling from a ladder a little more than 10 years ago while adjusting the satellite dish on his roof. The plunge to the driveway left him with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, which is his bowling arm.

For most people his age, the injury would end one's bowling days. Not Berthold.

"He had surgery and then started taking lessons so he could bowl left-handed," Barb Berthold said. "When he wants to do something, he just does it."

Berthold says he even bowled a 300 once, though his daughter is quick to note that if he did, it wasn't documented.

"To me his biggest accomplishment is that he's still bowling," she said.

One of the highlights of Berthold's birthday celebration this week - apart from the strike he rolled in the fourth frame - was when members of the Palatine American Legion Post 690 Color Guard visited to thank him for his service and presented him with a special hat and shirt.

"There are quite a few veterans in our league," Evans said. "The majority of the league is in their 70s and 80s. We're old!"

Berthold said he was surprised by the party and appreciates everything his bowling friends have done for him, And, he added, he hopes his name is spelled correctly in the newspaper.

Barb Berthold said she's just happy that her father is able to bring so much joy to others.

"I'm proud of him and all of them are proud, too," she said. "It's a real celebration, and I'm just proud to deliver him to the bowling alley."

  Members of the Palatine American Legion Post 690 Color Guard salute 103-year old bowler Ed Berthold of Fox River Grove, left, at Bowlero in Deer Park on Tuesday. Berthold's decadeslong love affair with bowling began when he was stuck in Iceland while serving in World War II. John Starks/
  Ed Berthold gets a kiss from his friend Gail Evans during his 103rd birthday celebration this week at Bowlero in Deer Park. Berthold went on to bowl a 156 for his over-50 league. John Starks/
  Ed Berthold relaxes between throws Tuesday during his weekly league play at Bowlero in Deer Park. The 103-year-old World War II veteran learned to love the game while he and his Army Air Corp flight crew were stuck in Iceland for 30 days while awaiting parts for their B-24 bomber. John Starks/
  103-year old bowler Ed Berthold shares a laugh with friend Bridget McGuiness, 93, during his weekly bowling league game Tuesday at Bowlero in Deer Park. John Starks/
  Two photos of 103-year-old Ed Berthold, taken when he served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, were on display this week for a birthday celebration at Bowlero in Deer Park. John Starks/
  Ed Berthold, right, celebrates with his daughter, Barb Berthold, after she rolled a strike this week at Bowlero in Deer Park. John Starks/
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.