Veteran Center Operator ‘Big Jack’ Kordusky Dies

by Bob Johnson 0

A celebration of life will be held on Friday for Jack Kordusky — known to bowlers from New Jersey to Florida as “Big Jack” — who passed away in his sleep on Sunday. He was 54.

Kordusky got to know many of the game’s greatest players during the years that the Professional Bowlers Association visited Brunswick Zone Carolier (formerly Carolier Lanes), an 82-lane center he formerly managed in North Brunswick, N.J. In recent years, Kordusky ran Jack’s Heartland Bowl in Sebring, Fla., a center he acquired from Kegel.

“I met Jack at Carolier Lanes in the ’90s, and last year he brought me to his center in Sebring to meet his youth players,” said five-time PBA champion Mike Fagan in a Facebook post. “He truly loved the sport and devoted his life to it.”

Tim Mack, who made a name for himself on the international circuit as a “professional amateur” for many years, recalled Kordusky giving him his first shot at PBA competition while Kordusky was managing Carolier.

Kordusky grew up in North Brunswick, and got his first job at age 10, handing out rental shoes. While growing up, he learned virtually every aspect of running a center, and worked his way up and into management positions. In addition to Carolier and his own center in Sebring, he operated Oviedo Bowling Center, near Orlando, for three years, and Cypress Lanes in Winter Haven for nine years. All told, his bowling center management career spanned more than a quarter-century.

“He was a man who had a heart as big as his 6-foot-7 frame, and gave way more to bowling than he took from it,” noted Kegel’s John Janawicz. “He was extremely involved in competitive bowling and an integral part of the [bowling proprietors association] here in Florida, as well as back in New Jersey… He was a true friend of the tournament bowler and anyone who wanted to improve and learn at this sport.”

It was his height that brought Kordusky his “Big Jack” nickname, but friends say his personality was equally as big.

“From the first time we met, he started calling me ‘Big Schlem,’” said Chris Schlemer of Storm Products. “That was funny [because] he was actually taller than me. And when I asked him about it, he said, ‘Listen, Schlem, it’s easy. Since we are larger than the average human, we automatically qualify as big.’ I said, ‘Fair enough, Big Jack.’”

According to Kordusky’s girlfriend, Nancy High, Kordusky had been recovering from hip surgery and had come down with the flu just before his passing.

Friday’s celebration of life will run from 5 to 8 p.m. at Heartland Bowl, to be followed by a two-game mini tournament.

“Jack would have liked to have [a tournament] in his name,” said Heartland Bowl’s marketing and sales director, Sue Merritt. She had known Kordusky for 30 years, and they once were rival center managers.

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.

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