Since the Altoona District USBC Bowling Association started inducting people into its Hall of Fame back in 1993, a man's name has graced its history books every year with the exception of 2011. That changed on Saturday night at the Bavarian Hall.
For the first time ever, a woman was inducted when Esther Poorman, 78, of Altoona, was honored at the annual banquet held before a nice-size gathering of fellow bowlers, family and friends, along with some local dignitaries.
What made it even more special was that Poorman went in alongside her son, Ken, who she thought was the only name on the dais for the evening. You see, Mrs. Poorman had no idea she was being inducted.
Esther Poorman is presented her plaque and a citation by ADBA?president Steve Kutruff (left) and her son and fellow inductee Ken Poorman.
"I don't know how they pulled it off. I want to thank them first before I kill them," said a laughing Poorman, who's been an active bowler in the area for over 60 years. "I come to these things every year so I didn't think anything of it. None of my kids could have known because I don't know how they could keep quiet about it, but I guess they did. They did a good job."
Esther Poorman was nominated by a group of USBC directors, one of which was her grandson, Randy Poorman, Jr.
"We said let's nominate her and see what happens," Randy said. "She does a lot for us. She helped us at the state tournament and we didn't have to worry about a thing."
John Casteel, another one of the local USBC presidents, was another person who brought up nominating Esther at the end of last year's banquet.
"She does so much for us in the area, she should be in," he said.
Poorman, who handles all the local bowling results in Blair County for the media, was once the Altoona Women's Association president, was instrumental in bringing the women's state tournament to the city in 1999, and is a member of the women's Hall of Fame. And to think, she almost didn't even dress up for Saturday's big event.
"I talked to my sister [Saturday] and she told me that my mother was going to wear jeans and she told me that she said 'Mom, you can't wear jeans. You should at least dress up for Ken,'" Ken Poorman said.
Esther, who was surrounded by her sister, son-in-law, grandchildren and children, was humbled at one point by the evening's festivities.
"It's amazing to go in with my son, and it's amazing to go in as the first woman, too," she said.
Steve Kutruff, the Altoona District Bowling Association president, also was one of the people who knew about the idea over a year ago.
"I think both her and Ken are deserving people of this honor. It couldn't have come to two more deserving people," he said.
Banquet notes: Ken Poorman, a league bowler for over 37 years in the area, and has held positions in the local chapter such as president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer, as well as Sgt. At Arams. "I don't think there is an association in the state that is run more smoothly than ours in Altoona," Mike Parisi, ADBA director, said. ... Two scholarships were presented to high school graduates Taylor Payne of Bellwood-Antis and Ryan Knott of Altoona. ... Pa. State Representative John McGinnis (79th district) also presented the Poormans with citations from the House of Representatives, as did Craig Reed from the state bowling association.