LELA JAMES – Redland’s First Lady of Bowling

by Frank Weiler

REDLANDS – Lela James is Redland’s first lady of bowling, bowling at Empire Bowl since 1965. During her 53 years of competing there she rolled numerous honor scores and accumulated many bowling awards and accolades.

She was the top female bowler at Empire Bowl during the houses early years and the city’s top female bowler for two decades. Lela was the first woman to roll a 700 series and the first to average over 185 at Empire Bowl. She was the first female to be listed on Empire Bowl’s Wall of Fame.

Over the years Lela has rolled many big scores with highs of 290 and 738 (279 – 234 – 225). She rolled her high scores back when bowling balls and lane conditions were not conducive to scoring. She used an old rubber ball made by Hammer to roll many of her big scores including her 738. Those were the days when skill was more important than equipment.

It was during the Viet Nam war that her dad got Lela into bowling. She moved in with her parents when her husband was shipped off to war and that’s when her dad taught her how to bowl. She’s been competing ever since.

Her dad, DON NASE, has been her coach during most of these years. After her dad, the person who most influenced her game was Dick Weber. He is Lela’s favorite professional bowler because he was a class act with a great attitude. Also, Weber used a five step approach, which Lela favors.

Lela grew up in Yucaipa graduating from High School in 1961. Her dad was in furniture sales an

d then owned Don’s Appliance Store in Yucaipa for twenty years. Like her mom, GRACE NACE, Lela is a mom and homemaker with three grown children (Sandy, Kevin and Cara). Once her children were older Lela worked as a waitress at the Tartan Restaurant in Redlands. She retired after thirty-twoyears.

Most of her family are bowlers. Her favorite team was a foursome including her father, her husband Ralph, herself and daughter Sandy. They bowled in Empire Bowl’s Las Vegas League, calling themselves the “Three Generations”. Lela competed in the Vegas league for over thirty years.

Lela is still a fixture at Empire Bowl and currently competes in senior leagues there. She is one of the top senior bowlers there and is not showing any signs of slowing down.

Bowling is a family affair and the Nace/James clan are living proof of that.