By BILL BOWLING
When Struthers resident Walt Bodine Sr. joined the Lowellville Rod and Gun Club in the early 1950s, he could not have known he was taking the first step in a long journey destined to include three sons and a grandson.
Over the years, Walt’s boys followed in his footsteps, putting the family on a path to serve the club for well over a half-century in time with a total that exceeds 150 years of service to the club.
Throughout Walt’s nearly 30 years with the club — he died in April 1980 — he was active in its rifle program and served as club trap chairman.
During that time he introduced scores of young people to the shooting sports, and there are still many who speak of spending time with Walt in his shop next to the family home. Typically, he would be repairing their guns or the folks would reload their spent shells using Walt’s equipment.
In 1975, Walt and several other area sportsmen began the Mahoning Valley Trap League that to this day is among the largest, most-active leagues in the country with 180-plus members.
Walt’s wife, Alberta, was ever present on the scene. She loved playing cards with other shooters’ wives and made sure the club’s kitchen was turning out a good meal during any shoot the club sponsored. Alberta had long been famous and is still remembered for her brownies.
Walt and Alberta’s boys began helping their father with the club’s trap program at a young age by assisting in opening trap houses, setting targets and scoring.
As the boys grew up and had children of their own, many of Walt’s grandchildren became active by assisting in the program as well and became good shooters in their own right.
The earliest of Walt’s boys to get involved in the club was Walt Jr., who now has 40 years with the club and currently serves as trap chairman. He has filled that position for a majority of the time since the passing of his father in 1980.
In 1975, Fritz Bodine was awarded honorary membership for his years of service to the club as trap helper while working with his dad. Fritz continues to assist his brother in that capacity today.
Jeff Bodine remembers loading trap machines, helping to set targets and scoring back as far as 1963. In 1980, he too was awarded an honorary membership for his services to the club. Jeff also continues to assist his brother Walt Jr.
Grandson Mark Hoffman was too young to join the club until 1987, but he well remembers opening the trap houses, setting targets and scoring at the age of 11. Mark has served as trap chairman over an eight-year period in addition to serving as trustee for some 10 years.
Best wishes and hats off to the Bodine family for their lifelong dedication and service to the Lowellville Rod and Gun Club.