MBA Hall of Famer Paul Vaughn Passes

John Paul Vaughn
Paul Vaughn

John Paul Vaughn, a member of the 1986 MBA Hall of Fame class, passed away on May 3, 2016 at the age of 87.


Paul was a member of the Madison Bowling Association for 27 years. He had a career high series of 816 and game of 298. He maintained an average of 190 or higher for 24 years with a high of 221. He rolled 31 700 series and was member of several league championship teams.

He competed in numerous MBA, Wisconsin State, and ABC tournaments and was a member of MBA team and doubles teams in 1970. He was an active basketball player during military service and in city recreation leagues. He was named Pen and Mike Club Sportsman of Month in April, 1967.

Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1948 and Army Reserve in 1954, retiring as Major in 1984. He was a leading figure in organization of junior bowling programs and in certification of instructors. He helped train and certify over 300 adults to be junior bowling coaches.

Paul was employed by Madison Health Department for 30 years. He was a devoted husband and father.

Any memories I have of Paul are related, of course, to the Hall of Fame Dinner. Perhaps the sweetest sight I saw was Paul and his wife Donna walking out to their car while I was packing up in 2009 or 2010. They walked slowly, leaned shoulders into each other, and held hands. They had been married 57 or 58 years at that time.

The other time was a year or two earlier when a young Mike Hoffman attended the 2008 dinner in the Richgels/McDowell/Zuege year. The place was packed, even slightly over booked. Seating was very limited, and I had only one table with room for two people so Mike and his wife sat with Paul Vaughn. Mike remarked initially that he “didn’t know any of those people.” After the dinner, though, Mike thanked me for sitting him there. For many bowlers, listening to bowling history from those who lived it – and WERE it – is a fantastic time.

The following is from an August 10, 1986 newspaper article written by the (then) 24 year old Jeff Richgels #buythepaper.

While a tough competitor on the lanes, Vaughn prefers to be remembered for his pioneering role in local junior bowling.

The Madison native organized junior leagues for Connie Schwoegler in 1958 and with Doris Hanson co-chaired the first local junior tournament in 1962. He was Madison’s junior tournament director for six years and state junior tournament director in 1968.

“I guess I consider my selection to be more of a tribute to my junior bowling involvement,” said the 57 year old right-hander. “I’ve had my moments on the lanes, but I’m more proud of my role in the junior bowling beginnings in this area.”

A noted basketball player, Vaughn gave up his NBA dream in the late 1950s. A pinboy in the 1940s, Vaughn bartended part time at Schwoegler’s for a year in the late 1950s and practiced, then joined a league the following year, averaging a startling 190.

Though he gave up bowling last year due to a hip injury, the Central High and University of Wisconsin graduate maintained at least a 190 mark for 24 of the previous 27 years with a career high of 221.

Vaughn has 31 nationals to his credit, with a career high 816 in 1967 which was the second supernational in MBA history. His best game was a 298.

Vaughn, who works for the Madison Health Department, and his wife, Donna, were married in 1952. They have five children and one grandchild.

Besides his junior bowling service, Vaughn was executive secretary for the Madison Area Bowling Proprietors Association, and also a Madison Bowling Association director, positions that eventually collided.

“When I was involved in junior bowling, I used to go to the proprietors meetings to raise money for tournaments and things,” Vaughn said. “I got going to so may meetings they said, ‘Hey, why don’t you be our secretary?’ ”

Vaughn resigned as an MBA director after a couple of other directors accused him of having more interest in the proprietors. “My main concern with the proprietors was to promote bowling,” he explained.

Along the way, he did a good job of promoting himself.

“The feeling of the recognition means a lot,” Vaughn said.