by Mary Lynly and Dudley’s Daughter Candace
A photographer for the WIBC (Women’s International Bowling Congress), California WBA and more for many years, Dudley Peebles provided a pictorial record for thousands of bowlers at tournaments and annual meetings. In later years it seemed like a slam dunk, organized, setups were always tasteful – on the lanes or off the lanes capturing honorees.
It wasn’t always this way. In the early years, Dudley and his wife Connie did all the prep work and oversaw the film developing, sorting and addressing pictures to mail to recipients with an aim of getting them in the mail within a day or two. It was a huge ongoing endeavor for the duration of the tournament usually ending in the annual meeting and maybe throw in taking photos at 500, 600, and 15-year Club events.
This was just one thing Dudley Peebles did. He endeared himself to thousands of bowlers, was always impeccably dressed, prepared and on time and his pictures were great.
Dudley was an artist, master carpenter and builder who left many clever mementos for bowlers he knew. Everything Dudley created was beautiful and professional.
In addition to designing and building a mid-century modern home in Spring Valley, California, appointed with his own furniture creations in wood and glass, Dudley built an indoor spa in his home in Sunriver, Oregon that could have been an award winner with beautifully finished cedar wood and for those of you who remember – Dudley loved nice sweaters and he remodeled a wall closet with round pegs for hanging sweaters and trousers.
Dudley Lindow Peebles was born in Detroit, Michigan on August 20, 1926 to Dudley Munger Peebles, a salesman, and Harriet Mildred Lindow, a musician in a dance band who played on the Vaudeville circuit in the Roaring 20s.
During grade school and high school, Dudley demonstrated an artistic talent for hand drawing and lettering that he would later apply masterfully in creating the signs and logos for the photo set-ups at the WIBC, state and city tournaments.
After graduating from Lincoln High School in Ferndale, Michigan in 1945, Dudley enlisted in the Navy and served on LSDs and LSTs in Florida and Cuba at the end of World War II and the Cold War which followed. After being honorably discharged from the Navy in 1947, Dudley began what would become a 50+ year career in the bowling industry in management and photography.
Dudley excelled in sports and the arts throughout his life. He was a standout athlete in high school, lettering in varsity basketball and football each year he was eligible, and was an advanced skier who served on the Ski Patrol in Indian Hills, Michigan. Dudley was also a part time dance instructor and an accomplished fly fisherman and fly tier.
Dudley also had a brief theatrical career, appearing as the third lead in the movie “Gypsy and the Fairy Princess”, in which he played the King, Father of the Princess. But two pursuits were Dudley’s passion: Golf and Bowling. Exposed to golf as a boy, Dudley took up the game in earnest in the 1970s at age 50 when he was living in La Costa, California, before moving to Sunriver, Oregon in the 1980s. During his 30 years on the golf course, Dudley competed in many club and amateur tournaments, achieving a low handicap of 9 and scoring one hole-in-one. Dudley’s most memorable golf outing was playing with Arnold Palmer in the Kapalua International Golf Tournament on the Hawaiian island of Maui in 1983, but his proudest golfing accomplishment was founding the Central Oregon Junior Golf Association and serving as its first president.
Dudley began bowling at age 10, inspired by his stepfather John Walter, who was an award winning bowling editor for the Detroit News and past President of the Bowling & Golf Writers Association of America, the only person to hold both titles at once. During his prime, Dudley’s high average was 198, and he had one unsanctioned 300 game.
In addition to being a bowling proprietor twice in his life (in Union City, Pennsylvania and Denver, Colorado), Dudley was United States Bowling Conference Hall of Famer Andy Veripapa’s manager and booking agent for 3 years as well as USBC Hall of Famer Ned Day’s agent for the Midwest region. In the early 1950s, Dudley bowled on the first public automatic (AMF) pin setters in Mt. Clemens, Michigan on opening day.
Dudley was WIBC’s official photographer for 38 years, from 1953 to 1990, and the official photographer for the California Women’s Bowling Association (CWBA) for 23 years, from 1979 to 2002. Over these many years, Dudley served four WIBC Presidents and five CWBA Presidents.
He was also the official photographer for several other state bowling associations, including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri and Kansas, as well as the cities of San Diego and Denver.
In total, Dudley photographed national, state and city bowling tournaments for over 50 years before retiring in 2003, a career where he typically took over 200,000 bowling photos a year, lending credence to his claim to have photographed more women than any other photographer in the world.
Dudley was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the CWBA in 2001, the first ever given to a man by the CWBA in appreciation for his 23 years of service as official photographer for the California State Bowling Tournament.
During his lifetime, Dudley gave back to those who contributed to his success, including the National Bowling Hall of Fame, the Dudley Peebles National Photo Contest, the California Senior and California Queens Tournaments, and other state tournaments. He was also a generous contributor to charity, including the American Cancer Society (in honor of his daughter Candace, a 22 year breast cancer survivor), Special Olympics, and the Disabled Veterans of America.
In his later years, Dudley enjoyed breakfasts at Denny’s and lunches and dinners at local Mexican and Italian restaurants, often picking up the checks with family and friends while exclaiming “Thank You Lady Bowlers!” Dudley is survived by his daughter Candace Wells (Jack), Granddaughters Erinne Esacoff (Cameron) and Kelsey Wells, Great Granddaughter Emersen (“Emmie”), and nephews Ray (Cindy), Bob (Ruthann Shelby), and Dave Moon.