Welu in 1955
|Born||July 3, 1932|
City of St. Louis, U.S.
|Died||May 16, 1974 (aged 41)|
William Joseph "Billy" Welu (July 3, 1932 – May 16, 1974) was an American professional bowler, executive for the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA), bowling broadcaster, and a great ambassador for the sport. A founding member of the PBA in 1958, he won four PBA titles, including two ABC Masters championships. He was only the second bowler in history to successfully defend an ABC/USBC Masters title, winning the event in 1964 and 1965 to join Dick Hoover (1956–57). The feat was not matched again until Jason Belmonte won back-to-back Masters titles in 2013–14.
Welu was born to Frank Joseph Welu (1895–1983) and Gertrude Mary Welu (1896–1964), he had a sister Patricia. He graduated from St. Thomas University and later received a master's degree in education from Saint Louis University. He played for the short-lived National Bowling League (NBL) in 1961-1962. Aside from his two Masters titles, Welu also won the 1959 BPAA All-Star (predecessor to the U.S. Open), four ABC championships, and two other PBA titles. He was named an All-American seven times. A 1999 edition of Bowlers Journal ranked him #22 among the greatest bowlers of 20th-century.
Known for his folksy midwestern speech pattern and easygoing personality, Welu spent several years as an analyst alongside legendary broadcaster Chris Schenkel on ABC's Saturday afternoon telecasts of the Professional Bowlers Tour. He was posthumously inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1975.
Welu's death of a heart attack at age 41 in 1974, which took a major toll on his close friend Schenkel, prompted ABC to find a new color commentator to join Schenkel in the booth. This was during a time when bowling was wildly popular and garnered very high ratings on television.
Dick Weber and Dave Davis alternated telecasts for a brief period until Nelson Burton Jr. was selected as a permanent replacement for Welu. Nelson and Chris spent nearly 23 years together calling the action for ABC Sports.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Billy Welu.|
- Billy Welu, Bowler, Dies; On ABC‐TV Sports Staff. New York Times (May 18, 1974)
- William Joseph “Billy” Welu. findagrave.com
- Randy Pedersen on ESPN broadcast of the USBC Masters final, February 15, 2009
- Jason Belmonte Becomes First Player in Nearly 50 Years to Successfully Defend USBC Masters Title, pba.com, February 23, 2014.