By Susan Van Cleaf
Herb Marth bowled his last game at age 88, five weeks before he died. His oxygen tank was at his side as he waited between frames. He took off his nose piece just long enough to take his turn with the ball.
This scene describes his passion for his sport. Shortly after his last game he went into hospice care, where he died of congestive heart failure June 22.
Marth lived in two places, his real home in Plymouth and his second at the Medina Entertainment Center, his home alley where he bowled three to four times per week and knew everyone.
On Friday, July 7, 200 people were expected at a memorial reception at the MEC and bowl a game in Marth’s honor.
When the center’s Paul Raskob learned of Marth’s death, he immediately called Marth’s wife, Nancy, and said he “would be honored” to have the center host a memorial event for her husband and “pick up everything,” said Ryan Marth, their youngest son.
In his later years, Herb Marth served as bowling coach at Wayzata High School. He was a certified bronze bowling coach and six-time competitor in bowling in the Senior Games, which take place every two years.
Nancy Marth described his Senior Games career, during which he competed in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. In mixed doubles, the oldest entrant must compete in the age bracket of the younger entrant. He competed with Michelle Cady, of the Medina Entertainment Center, in the age 55 to 59 bracket, when she was 20 years his junior.
Marth recalled that her husband broke his hip at a bowling alley in 2013. The setback was temporary. Before long he was back at bowling.
Herb Marth developed his passion for bowling while watching his dad in action. The younger Marth began the sport in high school and went on to win a gold medal in bowling while serving in the Army. He served in the Korean War and then had a career in federal civil service. One of his last assignments was working on logistics for Apache helicopters. He also was a husband and father to four children.
Retirement enabled Marth to pursue his bowling passion. He bowled a number of 700 series and became a member of the 700 Club of Minneapolis/ St. Paul. His highest series was 770, according to his wife.
The club honored him three years ago, at age 85.
“He loved bowling, helping people to bowl and teaching people to bowl,” Nancy Marth said.
The Medina Entertainment Center’s Raskob called Marth an unofficial ambassador for his sport.
“You looked forward to seeing him,” Raskob said. “His smile lit up the room. He was the kindest, gentlest, most respectful person you would ever meet. He was always interested in what you and your family were doing.”
Marth is survived by wife, Nancy; children, Herbert Marth Jr. (Libby), Janis (Allen) Lyle, Debra (Jeff) Bristow, Ryan Marth (Jody Peterson); grandchildren, Hunter, Stuart, Lindsay, Katie, Luke, Baxter, Sonja, and Axel; four great-grand-children; sister, Dona Mae Goulet; nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends.
Services have been held. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Minnesota Senior Games or Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital Hospice.