RIVERVIEW - Ellie Moorehead will soon be celebrating her 95th birthday - that is, if it doesn't interfere with her bowling.
The Caribbean Isles resident has stuck with the sport for 63 years and has no plans to quit any time soon. "When I was in my 70s I decided I was going to bowl until I was 90," Moorehead said she told her friends. "Now I plan to keep going until I drop."
Even injury doesn't stop this dynamo.
"When I broke my left wrist in two places in mid March, my doctor told me to slow down," Moorehead said. "He said, 'You're not 65 anymore and told me not to bowl for awhile.'"
She took it easy for all of three weeks. After all, it wasn't her bowling arm, she said.
Originally from Toronto, Moorehead moved with her family to New York City when she was 7 and lived there, in the Bronx and on Long Island.
After graduating from high school in 1935, she went to work as a "sales girl" for Bloomingdale's and later became a dressmaker for Bergdorf Goodman, an upscale department store on Fifth Avenue near Central Park.
Moorehead married in 1937 and had two children. After they were grown and she retired as a secretary from Grumann Aircraft, the couple moved to Apollo Beach in the early 1950s.
She started bowling when she was 32 as a way to spend time with her husband, she said. He also golfed, and some of her friends played tennis, so she took up all three sports.
"I played golf during the day and played tennis and bowled at night," Moorehead said. "I also painted oils, sewed my own clothes and still do."
Tennis was the first to go because she couldn't find a partner to play with when she came to Florida, she said. Then, about five years ago, she had to give up golf, due to arthritis in her fingers.
Despite some current neuropathy in her hands she continues to bowl, albeit with a lighter ball.
"Even so, she beats us," said Ellie's Belles teammate Judy Lynch, who bowls with Moorehead every Monday morning in the Lady Bugs League at The Alley. "Her average is 136; mine is 123."
Moorehead's liveliness and positivity are endearing.
"Whenever I introduce her, I say she's a gift to the Lady Bugs," said Melissa Hartmann, sales manager at The Alley and a bowler in the league. "She's such an inspiration. Everyone loves her."
Vanessa Lovado, 29, agrees. "All I can say is 'wow,' " she said. "She always comes with a smile on her face, which is very infectious. She's definitely fun to be around."
Moorehead attributes her longevity to perseverance.
"When I get up in the morning I don't say, 'I'm tired,' " she said. "I say, 'I'm still here. I have a lot to do.' "
And she doesn't fret. "I don't worry so much about anything that happens. I never dwell on things," she said. "What's the good in it, anyway?"
The Lady Bugs League is still looking for bowlers ages 18 and older. If interested, call Hartmann at (813) 672-8353.