Category Archives: Club Members

Membership has its privileges

Remembering June Browne

Many years ago, June Browne and her husband Howard joined my wife Shelagh and me at an Oakland East Bay Symphony concert that ended with Samuel Barber’s poignant “Adagio for Strings.” The piece begins with one of the more quiet sections in classical music, and at that moment a very loud fight broke out in the back of the Paramount Theater between an usher and a patron. The orchestra and Maestro Morgan soldiered on through the yelling, but then, post-fight, they played the entire piece again. Shortly afterwards, I saw June at the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club and mentioned the wildness of the night. She focused on the positive: “At least we got to hear the piece twice!” That was June: she did not turn a blind eye to problems, but if something had a silver lining, she resolved to find it.

June passed away this March after an illness and a short spell under hospice. She would have celebrated her 100th birthday in July. Our most senior continuous member, she joined the BLBC in 1988. June and Howard served the club in various ways. For many years, Howy (as he introduced himself) edited the paper version of the club’s “Green Sheet” newsletter. He also provided many photographs at club events, which he cheerfully did with skill. June could be counted on to help set up and clean up at club functions and for many years served on the Memorial and Endowments Fund as a valued trustee. June bowled amiably for many years–always a good sport and good team mate.

As Howard’s health declined from Parkinson’s, June made sure he could still attend events at the club, even as he bowled shorter and fewer games. After Howy died in 2007, June handled the big change in her life with grace and considerable verve. She continued to enjoy concerts, singing in the choir at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and traveling internationally.

Born in Riverside in 1923, June told me that her father died not long after she was born. Her mother struggled as a single parent, and June learned at an early age that women labored at a disadvantage in the world. The old saying went that for a woman to be considered as good as man, she had to perform twice as well. June did not seem at all daunted or–based on her personal observation–worried by this prospect. Whip smart (her knowledge of art, literature, and science ran impressively wide and deep), canny (as anyone who played poker with her soon found out), and realistic, June used her formidable intellect and resilience in anything she pursued. A proud graduate of UC Berkeley, she earned her degree in chemistry and worked in a lab. She met Howard (she once said about dating Howard, “He was such a good driver, and that impressed me in a young man.”), married him, and they began a family.

With their four sons, they took family trips in a camper and worked on their stunning mid-century modern house in the Kensington hills (she lovingly pointed out parts that Howard, ever the hands-on engineer, built or modified in the house). She created a beautiful garden in the back with fruit trees and flowers that in her later years gave her great pleasure to look upon. She liked that some of the neighborhood cats adopted her–they knew quality.

June launched into her 90’s with an energy that many friends decades younger could only envy. She continued to sing in her choir, she went to shows, she took grandchildren on trips to Europe, she toured with her choir, and she played poker regularly at the BLBC clubhouse. Game for anything!

June liked to entertain. She graciously hosted small events in salon style, and she liked a good conversation about serious things over appetizers and wine. She liked hearing about new things. Some people may have looked at June and thought her a little formal in her way; I never heard her call her husband “Howy,” she always called him “Howard.” She did not seem to care for anything diminutive in things or in people; she preferred everything at full-strength. Any time spent with June after that initial introduction revealed a sincere, curious, and generous person. June liked a good laugh, and her mischievous grin responding to a well-delivered bon mot served as quite a reward.

We at the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club will miss June. But mostly we will fondly remember her time with the club and the times she worked and played with us. We offer our condolences to her family, and thank them for sharing June with us for 35 years.

BLBC 2022 Pairs Tournament, 10/22/2022

BLBC 2022 Pairs Culminates in Dramatic Final

The Club’s 2022 Pairs Tournament was held on Saturday, October 2022 and featured eight teams, first playing a series of three randomly-drawn 10-end games. The two top teams from that round went forward into a 10-end final. Teams had been formed by a random matching of Skips with Leads and had been handicapped based on the combined handicap of Skip and Lead. 

Only one team—Gary “Bing” Burns and Gordon Beveridge—emerged from the prelims with three wins, while three others had won two of their three matches. Of the latter, Chris Davis and Sarah Allday moved on to the final through having the best differential among the tied second place teams.

And what a final it was! A delight to the assembled spectators. Starting out with a net handicap in this matchup of +5 and taking three shots on the first end, Gary and Gordon looked in a formidable position. But Chris and Sarah were not giving in that easily and fought their way back into the match to tie it up at 9-9 on the eight end. Both teams were bowling really well, drawing continuous applause from the peanut gallery for shot after excellent shot, a particularly spectacular one being from Gary to slip in on the 9th end with his last bowl and take away Sarah’s point that was sitting less than two inches from the jack. The perfectly executed draw slowed as it drew in and curved just so to nestle an inch behind the jack. But the undaunted Davis/Allday team were not yet out and grabbed a single point on the 10th end to tie the game.

A 1-end bowl-off determined the winners. Chris and Sarah were now on a roll and put in great shots to win by three points and thereby emerge as 2022 Pairs Champions. 

Congratulations Chris and Sarah and thanks to all the participants for a fine day of bowling, to the hospitality crew of Sarah and Rolayn for vittles, and, as always, to our Greenskeeper Annie for what must currently be the fastest natural cover green in the PIMD.

– Report courtesy of Jim Corr

Rossmoor Challenge, 11/5/2022

The “Allende El Cerro” Trophy Goes to the Other Side of the Hill
They say “better late than never,” but when the news is not so good, maybe it’s not so good. Anyhoosies, with apologies for the delay to those of you not already aware, we lost the annual challenge match to Rossmoor LBC on Saturday, November 5.
We fielded six triples teams for a morning and afternoon game, but sadly only managed two wins on either side of lunch. Rumor has it that the Rossmoor folks were riled up by your humble correspondent holding up the trophy at announcements time, urging our hosts to take a good look, as some of them had never seen it before. (Berkeley had won the preceding four years in a row.) Lesson learned.
The trophy titled “Allende El Cerro” translates as “Over the Hill” to some people—a bit too close to the bone for me, with its whiff of an implication that lawn bowls is a sport for geezers. “On the other side of the hill” is a perfectly good alternative.
Riled or not, our Rossmoor colleagues were ever gracious and laid on a very nice lunch with hamburgers, veggie burgers, and hot links with all the fixings and then some, served up by grillmaster Ozzie Ozorio. We thank them and look forward to next year’s match-up here at home when we anticipate the trophy will return to this side of the hill!

– Report courtesy of Jim Corr

BLBC 2022 4-Bowl Singles

The 2022 4-Bowl Singles Tournament was a split affair, with the first stage being a round robin of four groups of three played over the course of September, and the winner of each game being the first to reach 16 points. The top two players in each group proceeded to the playoff round on Saturday, September 24.

Based on their performances in the round robin phase, the eight remaining contestants were seeded for the quarter-final round with 1 v 8, 2 v 7, and so on, resulting in a match up of Cris Benton v Phil Grattan, Sal Garcia-Lemus v Jim Corr, Rob Hoey v Cathy Dinnean, and Gary “Bing” Burns v Tom Birt. Those games, like the semis, were also played on the basis of first to reach 16 points. From the quarters, Phil, Jim, Rob, and Bing emerged to duke it out in the semis. The Jim v Bing match-up was close fought, tying at 12-12 before Bing gained one point on the 15th end, followed by a game-winning three on the next one. In the other semi, Phil led from the outset, and, while Rob sought valiantly to fight back, Phil ran out on top by 16-6.

The final was set up on the classic format of first to 21 points for singles events. Phil once again dominated. But Bing was determined to make it a real contest and came back from what could have been a spirit-sapping position of down 18-1 after seven ends to bring it to 19-12 by the 15th. However, with a couple of 1-pointers on the next two ends, Phil showed his determination not to let victory slip from his grasp and prevailed as the 2022 4-Bowl Singles Champion.

Congratulations to Phil and thanks to all who took part in the event including the early contenders. As always thanks to our hospitality crew for sustenance and to our greenskeeper for the quality of the green.

PIMD 2022 Singles, 7/9/2022, 7/16/2022

PIMD 2022 Singles—Dual Venue Tests the Field

The PIMD Singles Tournament was held over two Saturdays (July 9 and July 16) at two clubs: first, at San Francisco LBC, followed by the final rounds at Berkeley.

Twenty-four competitors, both men and women, started out at SF, and after three matches played to 16 points, a top 12 emerged, three players having three wins: Chris Davies (Berkeley), Jim Corr (Berkeley) and Scottie Marzonie (Palo Alto,) and nine having a record of two wins, one loss.

On the succeeding Saturday, with all games played to 18 points, the top six bowlers from the SF rounds were first randomly matched against the bottom six. The two later rounds were played on a “winner v winner” basis. After two matches, the final contests were set with Jim Corr facing Andrew Keeler (San Francisco) for top spot and Jesse May (Santa Cruz) against Chris Davies at that point in third and fourth place. In the Corr-Keeler matchup, Andrew jumped into an early lead to go up 10-3 at one point, but, mainly through getting hold of the jack more often, Jim managed to switch play to a short jack game and dominated the second half. Four points for Jim on the 16th end tied the game at 15-15, and in the next end he took another three to snatch victory and the 2022 Singles title.

The other top match was equally hard fought, with Jesse overcoming Chris by 18-14, which vaulted Jess to second place overall in the standings. Andrew finished third, edging out Aumao To’alepaialii (Santa Cruz) by a single differential point over the three matches of the day.

Congratulations to all who were “in the money” (a total of eight players) and thanks, as always, to PIMD Tournament Director Bud Birkenseer for the hours he put in to overseeing the tourney. And a big shout out to the Berkeley hospitality crew as well as to newly (re)-appointed greenskeeper, Annie Brillhart for producing a fine playing surface at short notice.

Berkeleyside at BLBC, 7/6/2022

Berkeleyside (the leading local news source) interviewed President Ethan Bortman and club members during our July 6th Wednesday draw game. Here are some photos by a club member, including photos of Sal Garcia-Lemus teaching Ximena Natera (Berkeleyside photographer) how to lawn bowl. We expect to see Berkeleyside’s published story towards the end of the week. 😊