Lawyers Are People Too

Nancy Hunter on Dingle Peninsula; Ireland is the homeland for Irish Road Bowling.

This post is supposed to become part of a magazine article, but the reporter hasn’t even ascknowledged receiving it, so I shall post it here, so at least I can see it in print! JBH.

Questions for Executives with Unusual Hobbies

*Tell me about your profession and how you chose that career path.
I received draft number 122 during the Vietnam Era, so I was certain to be drafted. I failed to meet the vision requirements for the U.S. Marine Corp. Officers Candidate School. My father, and two college roommates, were Marines.

I passed the vision test, and the academic test for U.S Army O.C.S. with an excellent score. But, I had a chronic problem with a dislocating shoulder. (Most of the men in my family have the same scar on their shoulder.) I had the shoulder surgically repaired in August,1968. In Oct. of that year I was stunned by the news that the girl I had loved for several years now loved me and was willing to be my wife.


1. A way to serve my country honorably; and

2. A means of earning a living;

I applied for law school at the WVU College of Law and for U.S. Air Force R.O.T.C. and was accepted into both of them. I worked a year for the “West Virginia Welfare Dept.” and graduated from law school in 1972. I served four years as an assistant staff judge advocate at Griffiss, A.F.B., a S.A.C. base, in Rome New York, and was hired to begin with the law firm of Rexroad and Rexroad in Buckhannon in July 1976, Bi-Centennial week. Over the years, I also practiced with John S. Holy of Weston, Robert M. Morris, Roy D. Law, and Randall L. Levine. Now I supervise a staff of four, two paralegals, a receptionist/clerk, and my lifetime best friend and wife, Nancy, our business manager and bookkeeper.

*Tell me about Irish Road Bowling:

how you discovered it and what you like the most about it.

West Virginia Irish Road Bowling discovered me. It was “invented” and “discovered” by the Godfather of WV Irish Road Bowling, W. David Powell, formerly of Lewis County WV and now of Washington D.C. David is a former paralegal with a major D.C. law firm and freelance writing and journalist. I was “best man” in the wedding of David’s first cousin, William Reese (Bill) Burns, and “Burnsie” brought a videotape of a production of David’s which played on the Outdoor Channel in approximately 1997. David had seen Irish Road Bowling on television and sought out information about the sport from an Irish pub in New York City, and during a “legendary trip” to the City of Cork, County Cork, Ireland, which, not incidentally, is what I believe to be the home town of my great grandfather, and grandfather, both named Michael O’Grady. David brought six bowls (28 oz steel balls) back to WV from a hardware store in Cork. He began the tournament as part of the annual Irish Spring Festival in Ireland, Lewis County WV.I have been part of some memorable Irish Road Bowling activities:

1. David and I initially pretended to have a WV Irish Road Bowling Assoc. when it was just he and I e-mailing.  We sent out press releases, promoted tournaments, and acted as if we were real, which we were not. I found WV Fairs and Festivals on the Internet, but it is David (It’s always David!) who doggedly got Irish Road Bowling into a dozen or so festivals and State Parks throughout the State; also, he has appeared on “P.B.S. Week-end Edition”; “C.B.S. Sunday Morning” and most of the major newspapers in the Eastern U.S.. He is more Scottish than Irish, but we call him “O’David”. Suggest something to David, and he will make it happen.

2. My wife and I got to host a group of 18 first generation Irish immigrants from Boston, who came down to West Virginia and put the authentic touch to our local version. My big surprise was that most of them preferred Coors over Guinness.
3. I got to go to Boston, two months after “911” as a member of a guest contingent, to the Boston Irish Road Bowling Society annual meeting, get my first “man kiss” from Con O’Callaghan, and sang the national anthem with these fine people, in their adoptive country. It was an emotional experience.
4. I had the privilege of bringing a dozen Irish Road Bowlers, and my wife’s 85 year old Mother (to surprise my wife) on her birthday, for the first North American Irish Road Bowling Championships bowled, at Turkey Run, in Buckhannon, WV.5. I was “official videographer”, sort of, in the most recent North American Championships held in Ireland, WV.

6. My wife, daughter Laura, and I were motivated to go to Ireland five years ago where we saw many wonderful sites.
7. During a conversation a few years ago, David and I agreed; somehow, we had reached Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point”,


where WV Irish Road Bowling is just going to keep growing and spreading. That was very satisfying.

*What has this hobby taught you about yourself?

I reaffirmed what I already believed about myself. I am always ready for something new, and fun. And, I am useless at something unless it interests me. Fortunately, a lot of things interest me.

*What have you learned from this hobby that you have been able to apply to your career to make you more successful?

I believe W.V. Irish Road bowling is such a phenomenon because;

a. It is extremely simple to begin, just four bowlers, a piece of chalk, a scorecard and a bowl, and a one mile or more country course; and,

b. It is as complex and sophisticated as skill and athletic prowess will allow. The record throw is 440 yards, by Con O’Callaghan, on the Ireland to Wildcat Road. If ever an activity has benefitted from networking, word of mouth, and internet chatter, this one has. When I first searched the Internet for Irish Road Bowling, there were two entries, one in New Zealand, and the other in Amsterdam. There wasn’t even an I.R.B. article in Wikipedia!

I suggest that anyone reading this article should Google “Irish Road Bowling” and “WV Irish Road Bowling” if they want a sample of the power of the Internet.

Our sons, Justin and Christopher, and Daughter’s in law, Jessica and Sarah, now have started the Asheville, N.C. Irish Road Bowling Association, and daughter Laura began the WV Irish Road Bowling Group on Face Book. Son John and daughter in law Bonnie come up each spring for the Irish Spring Festival with our grandchildren, Anna and Jack, and friends from Charlotte. Our family and friends have been as many as 50 for one week-end!

This year, for the Spring Festival, we were fewer, but David announced we had @ 260 bowlers! That’s more than 60 teams, on the road from Ireland to Wildcat! David is doing more for the State of WV than many people realize. And, we now REALLY have an organization of several dozen active members, all of whom love their State and love a good time.

*Who do you share your hobby with, whether its family or friends or other participants you’ve met in the sport?

Everyone! We announce tournaments at choir, to our college friends who come to WVWC’s reunions in the fall and come back for road bowling in the spring, to my high school classmates, and of course our children, siblings and parents. My father and stepmother became very close with my college friends, and others, by coming to the tournaments. Dad did not bowl, but he could share a sip of Bushmills with them, and lots of laughter.

*As a professional, how do you find the time to participate in your sport?

Truth be told, I don’t spend that much time actually bowling. Our best competitors, who have gone to Boston, Ireland, and now the Netherlands (!), are bigger, stronger, and younger than I. Our first team, @1998, bowled a 41, pretty good when the record is a 32. I figured the score would keep going down, down, but our best score since then was a 44. I love writing to and hearing from David. I can suggest something, and, pretty soon, he makes it happen.

I purchase ads for the various tourneys, and I attend, photograph, watch, and visit. Now that we have grandchildren, we usually are with them while our children bowl. But, it is like any other gathering of West Virginians. Lots of fun when good people get together on our country roads.

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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