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To everybody he was “Whitey.” To others he was “Coach.” Hardly anybody called him by his given name, Harry.

Harry “Whitey” Kiszewski, a popular figure on the Western New York bowling scene, died Dec. 27 at age 81.

The Kiszewskis are a well-known Buffalo sports family. Whitey and Loretta Kiszewski were parents of four sons, Brian, Brad, Bruce and Billy. Brian Kiszewski, a bowler of accomplishment himself, is executive director of the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association. Brad, PBA Rookie of the Year in 1991, was enshrined in the Greater Buffalo USBC Association Hall of Fame in November.

Whitey, who guided his sons and countless others in all sports, but especially bowling, couldn’t attend Brad’s big night. He was in the hospital fighting pneumonia, the complications of which, along with lung cancer, finally took his life.

Whitey Kiszewski was a familiar figure around AMF Thruway Lanes in Cheektowaga. Many were under the mistaken impression that he was an employee of the lanes. He might as well have worked there.

“He didn’t actually work there,” Brian Kiszewski said. “Many times we would say ‘Dad, you’re retired and you’re always here. Why don’t you get a job there?’ He didn’t want to because if he got paid, he would have people telling him what to do. He did whatever he wanted but he didn’t want to be on the books.”

Probably the closest Whitey came to winning a city bowling title was in 2010 when he teamed up with Brian, Brad and Brian Jr. to finish second.

For years, Whitey bowled in the Double A League at Corpus Christi Lanes. He also bowled for the Twin Industries League and when the Polish National Alliance National Bowling Tournament made its last stop in Buffalo in 1964, he competed in that.

In his later years, though, most of Whitey’s interest in the sport came in offering advice, guidance and encouragement to others, particularly young people. All through his life, though, he had been there to help set the course for others.

“He was the one that got Brad and I started in the game,” Brian Kiszewski said. “He’d say ‘If you’re going to be good this is what you’ve got to do ...’ We both started out at Ideal Lanes (Now Kerns Avenue).

“I’m getting emails and texts from people I don’t even know remembering things he did for them and saying he will be missed.”

College keglers roll

Local collegiate bowlers from Erie Community College, Niagara County CC and Canisius were busy last week in two annual major tournaments – the Roto Grip Keystone Quaker Tournament and the Lehigh Valley Classic, both in Allentown, Pa.

Tricia Kent (Williamsville South) averaged 189.6 in helping Pikeville (Ky.) to second place behind Robert Morris (Ill.) in the team competition in the Keystone.

Devon Miller of ECC fared the best individually among the men with a fourth place in the Keystone, averaging 221.4.

NCCC’s Eric Michalski (Amherst) was seventh with a 213.2 average in the Lehigh Valley event.

NCCC men finished 16th ahead of ECC (17th) and Canisius (26th) among 35 teams in the Keystone. The ECC women were 13th and NCCC 15th in the same event.

In the Lehigh Valley, the ECC women were ninth and NCCC 12th in a field of 18 while ECC was 21st, NCCC 22nd and Canisius 30th among 55 men’s teams.

Tyler Molina was the top Canisius bowler with a 208.4 average for an 18th place finish in the Keystone. Jake Wysor was 17th with 209.4.

Liz Szpara and Alicia Alguire led the ECC women. Szpara was 27th in the Keystone with a 180.8 while Alguire was 28th (177.0) in the Lehigh Valley.

Szczerbinski leads trials

John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda took the men’s lead Thursday after the opening round of the 2013 United States Bowling Congress Team USA Trials in Henderson, Nev.

Szczerbinski had a six-game total of 1,516 (252.67 average), including a 299 game, on the 40-foot Athens pattern.

Eddie VanDaniker of Chatsworth, Calif., finished second with 1,459, while Ivan Miysato of Fresno, Calif., was third with 1,424.

“I felt like I had the right ball in my hand and had a good picture of the lanes in my head and that usually means pretty good scores,” said Szczerbinski, a former Wichita State standout who was a Team USA member in 2009 and 2010. “I expected to come in and do fairly well today, but I really didn’t expect to put up so many big scores like I did. But I’m not complaining.”

The trials wrap up on Monday.

email: mnorthrop@buffnews.com