Some of you from the Detroit area may have known Janet "Sam" Greaves. I just received the sad news from her husband that Sam died yesterday (September 4).
Sam was a outstanding bowler and an outstanding person. She was a former PWBA member, a USBC Bronze-certified coach, and she coached both the boys and girls bowling teams at Mott High School in Waterford.
Visitation will be Monday (Labor Day) from 1 to 6 p.m. at Modetz Funeral Home, Riverside Chapel, 5630 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford. The service will follow immediately. Sam requested memorial contributions to the American Cancer Society, the Waterford Mott High School Bowling Team or your favorite charity in lieu of flowers. She also wanted everyone to be relaxed and comfortable, so she requested casual dress for the funeral.
Friends are invited to Airway Lanes, 4825 Highland Rd. (M-59), Waterford, for refreshements following the service.
Mark Martin wrote a tribute to her that was to have appeared, but for unknown reasons did not, in August 28 issue of The Oakland Press:
Bowling is much more than a sport and there’s no better example of this than the story of Janet Greaves of Waterford Township , affectionately known as “Sam” Greaves.
As a native of Jamestown , N.Y. she was introduced to the sport of bowling as a teenager, but never took it seriously. Bowling was an activity to enjoy with friends.
In the mid 1970’s she joined her first sanctioned league at North Hill Lanes in Rochester , after being asked by a couple of friends who needed a bowler to fill out their team in a Wednesday afternoon league.
From that experience her passion for the sport grew. Soon she purchased her first bowling ball, drilled by Bill Srock Sr. at North Hill Lanes. Then she took her first lesson from Ted Rabaja at Bowerman’s Peach Pit in Romeo.
She joined the Rochester Women’s Tuesday Night League at North Hill Lanes and continued to improve her skills. Her first 600 series was bowled in that league.
Around the same time I first was introduced to her, as she would come to the lanes during various high average leagues and keep score at a time before automatic scorers.
In the early 1980’s, while tending bar at North Hill Lanes, she got her first taste of professional women’s bowling when the Professional Women’s Bowling Association came to North Hill Lanes. She bowled in the pro-am both years the event was held at North Hill Lanes and met several of the women professional bowlers. Some of them encouraged Sam to try her hand at it and she did.
Among the professional women bowlers who gave her encouragement were Virginia Norton and Nikki Gianulias.
By her own admission she was only a part time player on the women’s tour, but did manage to participate in two U.S. Women’s Opens among her tournaments. During her short professional career she did manage to pick up the 5-7 split while on television as part of a professional team event.
After a few of years she decided to regain her amateur status.
In 1984 she married Nelson Greaves and this past February they celebrated 25 years of wedded bliss.
During her career she has bowled one 300 game, two 299 games, a high series of 792 and carried a high average of 214. She won four Pontiac Women’s Bowling Association titles and two Michigan Women’s Bowling Association crowns. She was the first woman in the Pontiac Women’s Bowling Association to average 200 for a season.
One of her proudest moments as a competitor was to win the Michigan State Amateur title in 1997. As a result she advanced to the national amateur in Akron , Ohio to compete for a spot on Team USA to represent her country. While she fell short of making Team USA , she’s very proud to have represented Michigan at the championship tournament.
While she never served on the Pontiac Women’s Bowling Association board of directors, she always was ready willing and able to volunteer to help the association and Jan Willson, long time secretary-treasurer of the organization. Sam considers Willson a great leader.
She served as a league officer in several leagues over the years including stints as league secretary and league president.
In 2008 when Detroit hosted the United States Bowling Congress Junior Gold Championship, she was one of the first to volunteer.
With the advancement of high school bowling in Michigan , she became part of the coaching staff for the Waterford Mott High School team. This became the next phase of her passion for the sport that she had come to love so much.
Working with the high school bowlers, keeping the stats, writing the weekly press release and constantly pestering the sports department of the Oakland Press to run the information fueled her passion.
She’s so thankful for all of the lessons she has learned from the sport of bowling, specifically diplomacy, patience, learning people skills and the importance of having an inner circle of friends.
Unfortunately she is suffering from abdominal cancer, after beating bladder cancer. Her time is now short, but her attitude is great and looks back on a very full life she has experienced as a result of bowling.
She has received countless cards and phone calls of encouragement during her struggles. The one she shared with me was a large handmade card from her former and current high school bowlers, of which she was so proud.
She now knows the thrill that she has “made a difference in someone’s life”.
Sam Greaves is the perfect example of how to balance bowling and give back to the sport that she had come to love so much.
God Bless and Godspeed Sam from all of your friends.