Vale Dr Ed Kee

By Matt Stevens
May 19, 2020

Tenpin Bowling Australia has paid tribute to Hall of Fame member – Dr Ed Kee who passed away recently at the age of 85.

“TBA is deeply saddened by the passing of Hall of Fame member Dr Ed Kee” said CEO Cara Honeychurch. “He was undoubtedly one of the finest coaches Australia has produced”.

Dr Ed Kee began his association with Australian Tenpin Bowling in the formative years of the sport, taking up this exciting new game in 1960.

“Bowling was his true passion in life and medicine came second”

Wife Edwina Kee

A General Practitioner in medicine, it was only a matter of time before he received the nickname ‘Doc’, which he was affectionately known by all.

His love for bowling began in 1960 which coincided with the opening of Australia’s first mechanical tenpin bowling centre in Australia –Hurtsville Bowl in Sydney. The Kees’ living close to Hurtsville, allowed easy access.

Hurstville Bowl’s opening not only enabled Ed’s introduction to the sport of bowling, but it also provided a formation of a long-standing friendship. That friend would ultimately become his fellow TBA Hall of Famer. Australian Adult and Senior coach Eric Jang.

“The Chinese community was a small community in these days” explained Jang. “Our families knew of each other, but we had never met. There was this new sport called Tenpin Bowling, so we met there and began at the Hurtsville Bowl in December 1960”.

Doc’s participation as a bowler would be short lived. Only bowling for 12-18months before being struck down with a hip injury that prevented him from continuing. His son Gary would keep Ed in the sport by needing someone to teach him the game.

Two years old at the time, Gary would be coached by his father and go on to become one of Australia’s greatest bowlers. Motivated with a need to help his son, Doc got involved in the idea of coaching and never looked back. He would make a profound impact on the development of bowlers in this country.

Left – Gary Kee pictured in The Bowling Magazine

He first coached junior bowlers in 1961 at Hurstville Bowl. He would learn this craft from the early Americans in Sydney centres.

“We had to learn by observation” explained Jang. “There was no source of information back in the day, it was trial and error and this is how you learned”.

Doc’s coaching efforts were focused toward the junior and youth bowlers. Doc’s belief being that this was the best time to effectively influence development in technique and habits that would be carried forward.

“He loved to work with juniors of all ability levels and not just the highly talented ones’ explained wife Edwina.

With the help of his wife Edwina, he would also become the first person in the country to conduct junior bowling camps in the Christmas Holidays. An initiative that he gained a large reputation for. The camps would see both Edwina and Doc billeting kids out to bowlers’ homes to save costs for the juniors and their families staying away from home.

“This situation created a close-knit community with the formation of long-standing friendships” said Jang.

One of those friendships was with fellow TBA hall of famer Jeanette Baker. Bakers initial introduction to the Kee Family was through bowling with son Gary. Both were selected into their first Asian FIQ team for Japan in 1974. A close association was developed and often when travelling to Sydney for tournaments, the Kee family would play host to Baker at their family home.

Following success at winning the World cup in 1983, TBA hall of famer Jeanette Baker moved to Sydney with the help of Eric Jang in a quest to further her development as a bowler. Doc would take charge.

“We had regular training sessions at various venues around Sydney and Doc Kee would be instrumental with any changes in my game. Suffice to say, the rest was history” explained Baker.

Left- Doc with Cheryl Munson & Narelle Selwood (nee Bevington).

Doc became an effective coach from a combination of skills and personality. Integrity, character, knowledge of the game and background in medicine being the key.

“Being a GP, he had an intimate knowledge of how the body functioned” explained Jang. “He came up with the ideal plan of coordinating muscle movement. His knowledge of sport and athletic abilities coupled with his medical brain was what made him unique”.

“The Doc was perceived to be the ultimate knowledge of all aspects of our sport, both the physiological and psychological areas. He was always very generous with his time and always happy to share information you were seeking. Ed assisted all levels of bowlers and had the patience of a saint with so many of us”.

TBA Hall of Famer Jeanette Baker
Left- Receiving Australian Bowlers Writers Award in 1985. Right – Doc pictured with the President’s Shield

Dr Kee coached the successful NSW Junior President’s Shield teams in 1976, 1978 and 1979, as well as several Australian Junior Masters champions who would also go on to win Adult master titles.

Jeanette Baker, Shane Woods, Chris Warner, Jason Belmonte, Maxine Nable, Sam Cooley, Andrew Frawley, Fred Allsop, Sue Cassell were just a few of the names that received guidance by Doc. The list of athletes becoming a clear example of not only his power in developing successful juniors, but bowlers that would continue that success as an Adult.

Left to Right – Edwina Kee, Maxine Nable with World Cup trophy, Dr Ed Kee and Fred Allsop

“Ed’s success was due to enhancing the natural technique that every bowler had” explained wife Edwina. “He didn’t have a cookie cutter approach and try to make all his bowlers throw the ball the same way”.

A prime example of following through with this philosophy is his experience with who is now one of the most recognisable names in the world of bowling. Jason Belmonte.

“Ed just tried to enhance what Jason did” explained Edwina. “In the early years he had some back pain and being a doctor, Ed was able to help him work on his technique to minimise the injury”.

Doc would coach Jason all the way from Junior to Adult. An experience that one of the greatest in the sport will never forget.

“Dr. Ed Kee is one of the reasons you even know who I am. As a junior player representing my state, Doc was the first authority to not just support my style of play but push me to be the best version of me on the lanes. The very first coach to want to help me and not change me. A master of the game himself and the best teacher I have ever met”.

Jason Belmonte
Jason Belmonte with Doc after winning Gold at the Asian Youth Championships in Hong Kong 2004

Success also came to Dr Kee in his role as coach of the 1976 and 1978 adult teams in the Asian Zone FIQ Championships, and the 1979 team that won two gold medals in the World Championships in Manila.  An extremely articulate man, Dr Kee also gained immense respect through his many years of excellent instructional columns in Pin Action magazine.

“He had so much success due to the way he went about it” explained Jang. “Its absolutely incredible the success he provided for so many. No one in this country has come even close to his record”.

“Doc Kee was an amazing mentor and his seemingly ‘laid back’ demeanour was his greatest asset. Whilst practising as a General Practitioner, he appeared to spend all his spare time in a bowling centre helping anyone who wanted to learn” explained Baker.

Instrumental in the development of many throughout the years, the bowling community expressed their condolences online after receiving the news.

The familiar theme of comments centring on two achievements. An appreciation of the profound contribution made to the sport. The second and most evident was the overwhelming expression of gratitude they had of who Ed was as a person to them. A true gentleman and a wonderful person to many.

 “As a human being, he was the highest integrity person you could ever meet. If you wanted a shining example of a person, he would be the person you would use. I have the utmost regard for him”.

Eric Jang

Jeanette Baker would echo Jang’s opinion.

“Tenpin Bowling in Australia has lost an icon and a great gentleman” explained Baker. “Doc’s commitment to the sport was optimum and he perceived his role as minimalistic. However, for those of us who spent a lot of time with him, he became a mentor and was very highly revered amongst those he met”.

Forever immortalised in the TBA Hall of Fame after being inducted in 2001, Dr Ed Kee will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and best wishes are with his wife Edwina and children Gary and Joanne.

1979 World Championships at Phillipines – Ron Powell & Eric Thompson with Doc – Gold Medal Australia
1979 World Championships at Phillipines – L-R- Eric Thompson, Kevin Quinn, Gary Kee, John Sullivan, Ron Powell, Bruce Kennedy with Dr Ed Kee at the front – Gold Medal Australia
One of Dr Ed’s columns in the Pin Action Newspaper


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