BATON ROUGE, LA – This past weekend, one of my bowling friends said I might need several columns to appropriately handle the passing of local bowling icon, Sue Braud.
He may be right, but I have to handle it in this space.
I feel like I have been remembering and writing notes about friends, both young and old, who have departed this life in the last month. This is no exception. I’ve read and nodded my head in agreement for the tributes on social media to this legend of local bowling who has been associated with Circle Bowl and the former Baskin-Robbins now BR Tournament for decades.
Now it’s my turn. How many bowlers she has touched over the years as a coach, an assistant manager, a proprietor and a tournament director is hard to fathom.
Rick Bourgeois, an executive with Malco Theaters which owns Circle and is the state high school bowling director, remembers Braud as his bowling coach in the early 1960s.
“Sue was such a gracious lady and she spent a lifetime promoting Baton Rouge as a bowling destination throughout Louisiana and the country,” Bourgeois said. “I met her in 1961 when I first walked into Circle Bowl, she was my first junior coach and we worked together in the bowling business for over 40 years. She will be missed by the many thousands of bowlers who came to her numerous BR Singles tournaments and I know her legacy will live on.”
The BR Tournament turned into her baby and the December event was one of the few Braud was unable to attend. Her last appearance at the tournament was at the August event.
I don’t know what the future plans are because Sue’s daughter, Donna and her husband Jeff, came to town to handle a lot of the tournament details each time. But hopefully the BR event will continue and my strong suggestion would be that the BR event should now include the name of Sue Braud, much like the Southern Masters carries Jon Juneau’s name. It seems perfect.
And it wasn’t just in management that she shined. How about some 15 Baton Rouge Women’s Bowling Association titles. How about years and years of bowling in state and national events.
There were years as a delegate representing the local and state women’s association and also as the long-time president of the junior association. Through it all, she was a builder of cooperation and success.
“Sue was always hell bent on seeing that Circle Bowl gave the best possible customer service and her focus was always on making sure HER league bowlers were content with bowling at HER center,” said Marc Pater, who has worked many years in the Malco bowling division and is the executive director of the Louisiana Bowling Proprietors, a group Braud was the first female president of in 1989-90.
She helped lead a delegation to Bismarck, North Dakota in 1989 to bid for the 1993 WIBC Championships that was held in Baton Rouge and she was so happy when the big event came to our town. Who knew it would be the start of a long relationship with Baton Rouge and the now USBC that has seen three other national events come to town with one more still on the horizon in 2025.
When I first came to Circle Bowl in the mid-1970s as a junior bowler from Shreveport for the annual Labor Day Mid-South tournament, there were two people who I wanted to meet and know about every youth bowler — John Snee and his then youth director soon to be assistant manager Sue Braud. Sue loved that tournament, much as she loved the BR Tournament and all its thousands of bowlers.
She became GM at Circle when Snee retired in the mid-1980s and held that spot until 2011. But she continued as we mentioned at the BR Tournament and was still on the Foundation of the LPBA Board of Trustees at the time of her passing.
She was instrumental in helping that Foundation establish the Grand Prix Scholarship Fund that Stuart Moss and the proprietors group has so ably run for many years. It changed youth bowling for the better.
“I’m so sad about the loss of Sue,” said Stuart Moss, who is the general manager at Premier Lanes in Gonzales and has worked at all the local Malco centers. “The kindness and friendship she showed to me over the years was monumental. She always provided great support and advice to me while running the Malco Bowling Centers.”
When you look at social media, the references to Sue Sue or Momma Sue are endless and with good reason. She made you feel welcome and if you were a bowler, especially one that came up through her youth ranks, you were a member of her family. I was lucky to have come into that group when I moved to town in 1988 after getting to known her during my youth tournament days.
When you think of Circle Bowl there are a group of people you always think of and Sue Braud is a part of that history. My sincere condolences to all the members of her family and please know bowling is better in Baton Rouge for the years we were able to share the sport with her.
Back on Jan. 21. Until then as always, good luck and good bowling.