York County lost one of its biggest personalities when Mike Elicker, 78, died on Sunday, May 13.
Over five decades, Elicker earned a reputation as an outstanding bowler and one of the most likable men in the bowling business.
More than 300 people jammed into the Viking Athletic Association on Monday, May 21, for his celebration of life service.
Elicker, a North Codorus Township resident, was hired at Lincolnway Bowling as an "all-around guy" in 1960 when the center was owned by Cal Miller and managed by Don Kauffman. He was named manager of the center in 1970 and later became general manager. He worked at Lincolnway Bowling in West York until his retirement in 2000.
"I chased pins, dressed the lanes, worked the counter and organized leagues," said Elicker in a 2000 interview. "I did whatever they needed me to do."
In the 1960s, Elicker established himself as one of the area's top bowlers, competing in as many as five leagues and numerous tournaments. He rolled two perfect games at Lincolnway in 1964. No one rolled another perfect game at the West York center until 1990.
Elicker competed in 43 consecutive national bowling tournaments. One of the highlights of his career came when he competed on a team with his two sons, Steve and Mark, grandson, Greg, and granddaughter, Jennifer. All five have the distinction of having rolled 300 games. Elicker was inducted into the York County Bowling Hall of Fame in 1981.
Elicker met thousands of people over the years and developed many friendships through bowling. He enjoyed being around bowlers and the people in the bowling business.
"Nothing could have treated me better than the bowling business," he said, before retiring.
Jim Plessinger, former proprietor of Suburban Bowlerama, said: "Mike befriended me when I came to York more than 35 years ago. Friendship was more important to Mike than being a competitor. He was always kind and helpful. Mike was definitely good for bowling."
"Mike's personality was one of the reasons he was very successful in the bowling business," said Hanover native Doug Eiserman, a former co-proprietor of East York Lanes. "He loved the game and being around people. He always made bowlers feel welcomed."
Terry Brenneman, owner of Bowlers Supply and proprietor of three bowling centers, said: "Mike always worked to make bowling better. He created a lot of new bowlers. It seemed like he knew everyone. Mike had a big personality. If you didn't like Mike, you didn't like anyone. He will definitely be missed."
Reach Barry Sparks at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was provided through the York County Bowling Proprietors Association.