Weather Forecast


At 90, former Farmington postmaster is still bowling strong

Former Farmington postmaster Bill Cook reads a birthday card during last week’s 90th birthday party.1 / 2
Bill Cook is pictured with grandsons Jamie and Jason Rice. They are on a bowling team together. It’s called Cookin’ Rice.2 / 2

Out of all of the places Bill Cook could have celebrated his 90th birthday, Farmington Lanes was probably the perfect location.

He was surrounded by family — his grandsons Jamie and Jason Rice are on his team — and lots of friends. He received presents from the other bowlers on the Wednesday Night Men’s League. He even got balloons and cupcakes. There were 90 cupcakes share with everyone in the house.

And instead of birthday spankings — though there were a few offers — Cook got fist-bumps and high fives.

That’s how Farmington’s former postmaster spent his 90th birthday Feb. 19 — bowling six games between two different leagues, and spending the day with many good, long-time friends.

He was doing what he loves doing. And he’s been doing it a long time.

“Bill Cook is the most avid bowler I’ve ever known,” said former Farmington Lanes owner Dick Pietsch.

Pietsch and Cook have been friends for years. At one time, they both worked for the Farmington Post Office, and they’ve bowled together since sometime back in the 1960s.

Cook worked for the post office for 22 years, the last of which he spent as Farmington’s postmaster. He retired on his birthday in 1979, so last Wednesday also marked the 35th anniversary of his retirement.

Of all of the things he does to stay young at heart, bowling seems to be his favorite. Grandson Jamie Rice said his grandfather bowls at least three or four times a week. On Wednesdays, he bowls leagues in both the afternoon and the evening.

In fact, Cook’s family had to go out for his birthday dinner the previous Saturday just so he had Wednesday night free for bowling.

Jason and Jamie Rice grew up bowling with their grandfather. The Rice boys — now in their 30s — bowl Wednesday nights with Cook.

Their team name is Cookin’ Rice.

Cook still holds his own on the lanes, too. He’s got an average of about 140 per game. And he’s got a lot of fans watching him, too.

“Every time he does something good, gets a spare or something, the whole house cheers,” Pietsch said.

In fact, Farmington Lanes even holds a tournament in his honor every year. It’s called The Bill Cook King of the Hill Tournament.

“He’s like the godfather of the bowling alley. Everybody knows him,” Jamie Rice said. “I think a lot of people just like seeing him down here.”

The staff at Farmington Lanes arranged for Cook’s birthday party Wednesday. A collection was taken up among the teams to give Cook $90 in pulltabs for his present. And just before games started, the whole league sang “Happy Birthday” to Cook.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

(651) 702-0974