Tom Strobl, owner of the legendary Thunderbowl in Allen Park, Mich., passed away early Thursday morning of a reported heart attack.

Strobl’s family has been in the bowling business continuously since 1942, owning a number of centers in the metro Detroit area. He started working in one of the centers when he was in grade school.

“All through grade school and high school, my brother and I worked in the center, beginning by hanging coats as people came in and graduating to cleaning the restrooms,” Strobl said in a 2020 interview. “We did it all.”

Strobl partnered with that same brother, Jim, to become a center owner in 1972. Twenty-five years later, he had the opportunity to purchase Thunderbowl, which had served as one of the venues for the ill-fated National Bowling League.

“Tom was very supportive of all the programs the Metro Detroit USBC Association has had, including our ‘Bowling Showcase’ television program,” said Association Manager Mark Martin. “He always supported certified bowling.”

Strobl also supported professional bowling, making Thunderbowl available to host the first PBA World Series of Bowling event. The center also hosted the first WSOB to air on FOX in 2019, as well as the first PBA League competition, the 2013 Players Championship, the 2014 Tournament of Champions and the 2023 USBC Masters.

“It’s devastating news for all of us — his family, the sport and Detroit,” said PBA Commissioner Tom Clark. “Tom Strobl was a legend… and a treasured partner of the PBA.”
Strobl was known for walking the Thunderbowl concourse during the evening hours, greeting the center’s customers. That typically was after a full day of work at Strobl, PLLC, the law firm he founded in 1989. He served as outside general counsel to many privately held companies, advising them on all aspects of business law. His areas of expertise included commercial transactions, corporate law, real estate and tax matters.

“Tom was very personable,” Martin added. “He was a friend to everybody. “I’ve never known anybody to say a bad word about him. He cared about his customers. I am going to miss him greatly.”

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