Hall-of-Fame pro bowler, Auburn native Pete Couture dies at 73

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, 2018-07-03 21:48:45

Auburn native Pete Couture won five titles on the PBA tour and nine on the PBA50 tour. Couture has died at the age of 73. (Submitted photo)

Pro bowler Pete Couture, third from right, was inducted into the Auburn-Lewiston Hall of Fame in May, along with William Hood, Raymond DeBlois and Carolyn Court. (Sun Journal file photo)

Hall-of-Fame bowler and Auburn native Pete Couture died Saturday of undetermined medical issues at his home in Florida, the Pro Bowlers Association announced earlier this week. He was 73.

In May, Couture returned the Twin Cities for the first time in more than 40 years to be inducted into the the Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame, the first bowler to receive the honor.

“Because of bowling,” Couture told the Sun Journal in 2016, “I got to bowl in almost every state in the country. I got to bowl in an invitational tournament in London, England, and another year in Paris, France. In my senior tour, I competed in Japan. It has taken me to a lot of places that I would have never got a chance to go.”

Alan “Pete” Couture grew up in New Auburn and graduated from Edward Little High School in 1963.

His father, Al “Shiner” Couture was a well-known boxer around the state — he once knocked out Bangor’s Ralph Walton in 10.5 seconds, delivering a knockout blow right after the bout started. Pete’s mother, Irene Boies, was a Twin Cities women’s candlepin bowling champion in the 1950s and 1960s. His stepfather, Roger Boies, also was a top candlepin bowler.

After his parents divorced, Pete Couture moved in with his mom, and also followed her to bowling competitions. It wasn’t long before he also developed a love of bowling, and also became a Twin Cities candlepin champion.

“I was in awe, because I could never be as good as him,” Gerry Dennison, Constituent Services Representative for Senator Angus King, said during his introduction of Couture at the A-L Sports Hall of Fame.

Couture spent a lot of time hanging around Auburn Lanes, and began working there on weekends in exchange for free bowling.

Despite his candlepin success, Couture decided to switch to 10-pin bowling.

“It took me a while because lanes just opened up a couple of years before I started,” Couture said in 2016. “I was Twin City junior candlepin champion at the time, so it is hard to give up something when you’re the best in your age group to start all over.

“I saw that 10-pin offered a lot more opportunities to bowl tournaments and such, where candlepin there was no city tournament or state tournament or anything else. That was the part that attracted me to the 10-pin, that and the fact that there was more things to bowl in.”

Couture said he played 10 games a day, seven days a week for an entire year, and his average scores rose past 200, which was considered high for the time.

He began competing in tournaments throughout New England, mostly in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and was usually the bowler who traveled the farthest. Finally, he moved to Windsor Locks, Connecticut, to be closer to the New England Bowling Association tournaments and to work in a pro shop.

“Pete was one of the toughest, hardest-working players our sport has ever seen,” Bill Spigner, a Connecticut native who grew up competing against Couture in New England, said in the PBA news release announcing Couture’s death.

In Connecticut, Couture began competing in Professional Bowling Association regional tournaments and in PBA qualifiers, from which the top 20 bowlers out of 100-200 would advance to the actual tournament.

Couture made it through the first four qualifiers, but, he said, “I wasn’t cashing in the tournaments.” In the fifth tournament, in 1977, played at his home alley, Bradley Bowl in Windsor Locks, Couture made the finals and finished 16th.

Couture said he was considering giving up his dreams, but decided to give it one final shot in the next tournament in Long Island. The prize money was $100,000.

“I figured, what the heck, I may go there to see if I am really bowling better,” Couture said earlir this year. “If not, I will go home and go back to work. As it turned out, I made the TV show and finished second. I bowled in every tournament for the next 10-11 years.”

He won five tournaments on the PBA Tour. He transitioned to the senior tour in 1995 and won the PBA50 Rookie of the Year. He won nine PBA50 titles and was the Player of the Year in 2002. He is one of nine bowlers to earn both PBA50 rookie and player of the year awards.

By the time he retired, according to the PBA, Couture had earned $959,000 during his career.

Along with the PBA and Auburn-Lewiston Sports halls of fame, Couture also was inducted into the Central Connecticut, Connecticut State Bowling Association and United States Bowling Congress halls of fame.

Prior to his induction into the Auburn-Lewiston Hall of Fame, Couture was living in Cocoa, Florida, where he worked part-time in a pro shop and gave lessons.

Auburn native Pete Couture won five titles on the PBA tour and nine on the PBA50 tour. Couture has died at the age of 73. (Submitted photo)

Auburn native Pete Couture was inducted into the Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame in 2016. Couture has died at the age of 73. (Submitted photo)

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