Iconic Wisconsin Bowling Center Owner Dies at 94

by Bob Johnson 0

One of Wisconsin’s iconic bowling center owners, Arthur “Stir” Wagner, passed away on Aug. 14 after battling leukemia. He was 94.

With his brothers, Wagner founded Wagner’s Lanes in Eau Claire, Wis., in 1949. After a fire in 1977, the family rebuilt the center and expanded it to 66-and-a-half lanes.

Wagner, who was still an active bowler last season, lost his brothers Kenneth (“Budge”) and Chet in 1990 and 2012, respectively. Earlier this year, under new ownership, Wagner’s celebrated its 65th anniversary.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.