WWII Veteran celebrates 99th birthday at bowling alley

Patrick Moussignac
Updated: February 21, 2020 07:27 PM
Created: February 21, 2020 05:20 PM

HILTON, N.Y. (WHEC) — According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are still more than 300,000 U.S. Veterans of World War II that are still living today. Many of them live here in the Rochester area.

A fair amount of these Veterans are in their 90s today. 

News10NBC met Hamlin resident Jack Palmer, who this week reached an age many people don't get a chance to celebrate. On

Friday his family and friends celebrated his special day.

His walk is slow. Almost baby steps because of age, but when Jack Palmer throws a bowling ball, he's a force to be reckoned be with down the alley. 

On Thursday, Palmer turned 99 years old. 

Family and his bowling teammates threw him a surprise birthday party at The Pleasure Lanes in Hilton. Bowling for Palmer is a passion.

"I enjoy the physical part of bowling, and also the people that I’m surrounded with," Palmer said.

Daughter-in-law Linda Palmer drives him to the bowling alley every Friday for his weekly matches. He participates in three matches, one right after the other.

"He looks forward to coming every week and everybody here is so nice, and you know they treat him with respect," Palmer said. 

His family doesn't know exactly when he first picked up a bowling ball, but he's been bowling since returning back from the Battle of Normandy during World War II. 

The war still brings up some bad memories. 

"He went for the 50th Reunion. Him and his cousin went, but he has not been back since," she said. 

Back on the lanes, Palmer was holding his own. 

"He's beating the heck out of me now," said one teammate.

 Another teammate, Roy Mosely said, "When you're bowling bad and you got a 99-year-old beating you, you got to step it up a little bit."

On average, Palmer bowls a 130. Always modest and humble he talked about his scores. 

"So-so," Palmer said. He went on to say, "I could do better, but I'm getting too old." 

After everyone sang "Happy Birthday," and ate tiny cupcakes, Palmer took some time to reflect. 

"It's nice to have a group of people that are friendly, who encourage you to do better," Palmer said.

His daughter-in-law added, "He's not a couch potato, and he just loves being around people."

Bowling isn't the only activity that Palmer enjoys. Family and friends say he ends his day with two glasses of white wine. Longevity at its best.

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