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Romeo Richly Deserves Hall of Fame Status
Bowl O Pinion November 2015 by Jim Goodwin

Recently, we got the news that our friend Joan Romeo has been elected to the United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame for meritorious service.

Hurrah! It is a good choice for many reasons.

First, it is refreshing for a change to see a name that doesn’t cause us to scratch our heads and say ‘Who Dat?’ The H of F committee is notorious for electing folks from the USBC inner circle that have, frankly, relatively few accomplishments outside of their own comfort zones.

That’s certainly not the case with Joan Romeo. She is the closest ting to the energizer bunny that bowling has ever seen. In the early years, she was mainly known as the mother of Hall of Fame bowler Robin Romeo, but over time, she has volunteered for countless jobs and committees that have all helped bowling, even on the international level.

And she is not one of those mild mannered matrons that just goes along to get along. She has been known to rock the boat when it is called for; and her powers of persuasion have brought bowling many rewards for decades. We almost always see eye to eye when it comes to bowling, but we have also had a few heated discussions when we felt differently; but we never lost respect for each other.

Several years ago, when I was president of the Bowling Writers Association of America, I wanted Joan to be my Vice President, not only for her skills and sales ability, but because I knew that with her business background, she would agree with me when I asked her to help me put BWAA out of business.

Over many decades, BWAA had become a stagnant organization in dire need of a major makeover; and my number one goal as president was to take whatever action necessary to get the group headed back in the right direction. Our first step was to call meetings with officials from USBC and BPAA to confirm what we already knew – that few people had any respect for the ailing 70 year old bowling media organization.

Without going into detail, the result was that BWAA was gracefully laid to rest and replaced by a new group with global reach – the International Bowling Media Association. A few years earlier, BWAA leaders thought that merging BWAA with the women’s writing group was the answer; but it proved to create more problems than it solved . . . it was a bandaid at best.

After creating the IBMA, the next step was to take it global, and that was accomplished when we invited the World Bowling Writers to take a couple of seats on the IBMA board of directors and bring their members into the new group. When my term was up, Joan served IBMA as president for three years, and more progress was made toward expanding IBMA’s horizons during her tenure. IBMA is still a work in progress, but it has a good foundation because of people like Joan.

On June 29, 2011, the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in Arlington opened a dynamic new exhibit called 50 Years of Women’s Pro Bowling. It was my honor to serve as chairman of the committee that created the exhibit, and again, when museum president Pat Ciniello and VP Keith Hamilton asked me who I wanted on the committee, the choices were obvious and easy – Joan Romeo, John Sommer, and Fran Deken.

For more than a year, Fran and I researched history and wrote bios for legendary players. John shared his records and history as owner of the PWBA for 22 years; and while Joan helped with the history, her primary role was fund raising. And she did it well, bringing in a majority of the more than $100,000 it took to build the exhibit.

Not long after that, Joan and I worked with Ciniello and many others to create the first International Bowling Hall of Fame Xtravaganza to raise funds for the museum and hall of fame. She is still involved with that effort every year.

Joan’s background is in marketing and public relations; part of it with the prestigious Perlman Agency in Los Angeles, and part with her own firm called The Marketing Team, or TMT. After her family moved to California from New York, she worked for Perlman, got involved in California bowling circles, and along with the love of her life, her husband Raymond, nurtured and promoted the bowling efforts of two of their four children in professional bowling.

In the early days, Raymond was always around when Robin and Tori were on the lanes; and after he passed away many years ago, Joan continued to support those efforts in every way. One way was to use her marketing and promotion skills to help PWBA both on the national and regional level.

If you look up all of the organizations Joan Romeo has done work for, it looks like the entire alphabet soup of bowling – ABC, WIBC, BPAA, FIQ, USA BOWLING,WTBA, IBMHF, LPBT, PWBA, PBA, BWAA, CBW, WWPB, NBS, WBW, BNN,WORLD BOWLING, IBMA . . . and we probably left out a few. The point is, she has been very, very busy for many, many years working for bowling, and she has done almost all of it on her own dollars. Not many people in bowling could even come close to the hours or funds she has dedicated to the betterment of the business and sport of bowling.

Years ago, our dear departed friends and Hall of Famers Chuck Pezzano and John Jowdy were particularly fond of Joan, and got her involved with the BWAA and many events associated with the PBA and PWBA. They were amazed at Joan’s contacts with virtually every bowling related product company and many outside the sport. And she fit right in with that group; or any group. She is never shy in asking for ideas, advise; or money for bowling.

For many years, we thought of Joan as the “Queen of Reno” because she did so much work for the National Bowling Stadium, the Eldorado Hotel and the Tri-Properties, and for the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Bureau. For a while, it seemed like Reno was her home away from home, and she still has close ties with most of the people there who love bowling and the casino business.

On a personal level, CJ and I have enjoyed our friendship with Joan very much. She is always one of the first we turn to for ideas and opinions, especially when we are looking for someone who understands bowling from both the business and sport perspective.

Her knowledge of other sports is also very impressive. After moving to California, she remained an avid NY Jets fan, and follows their games passionately. She is even more enthusiastic when it comes to backing her adopted Los Angeles Lakers; and she keeps up with Tennis and many other sports better than most of her male counterparts.

Congratulations, Joan, congrats to the other inductees, and to hall of fame committee for making a very wise and worthy choice.

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