United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Max Skelton of Ada, Okla., died on Nov. 20. He was 89.

Skelton ascended quickly through the bowling ranks locally and nationally, and he gained additional notoriety for his efforts on the international front and in promoting bowling for inclusion in the Olympics. He also was known for building bridges between Caucasians and Black people.

Skelton served more than 20 years on the USBC (then American Bowling Congress) Board of Directors, a journey that began in 1979 and culminated in his serving as the organization’s president in 1990. 

Skelton also went on to serve as the president of the United States Tenpin Bowling Federation (later USA Bowling), which served as the bridge between bowling in the United States and the international governing body, known today as the International Bowling Federation.

His lifetime of service was honored with induction into the USBC Hall of Fame in 2002 for meritorious service.

Skelton’s administrative career at the local level started at a time when the sport and society were changing, and he often is recognized for his efforts to integrate bowling after ABC eliminated its Caucasian-only membership clause in 1950. 

When others would not bowl with African American teams in the Oklahoma City Men’s Bowling Association tournament, Skelton volunteered his teams to compete with them.

Beyond bowling, Skelton made a career as an educator, serving as the superintendent of the Ada City Schools from 1967-1980 and later as the assistant superintendent for the Little Axe School District.

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