She took up bowling in 1938. Each day, she had to wait for a bus home after the job she had taken, straight out of high school. To pass the time, she watched the bowlers at the Cal-Rec Center. When someone asked her if she wanted to try herself, she turned out to be a natural.
She was a founder of the women’s professional bowling movement in 1959. She won two professional titles during her career and won the 1961 National Doubles title with fellow Berkeleyan Nobu Asami.
She became a noted bowling teacher, and developed innovative ways to teach people with physical disabilities. Her son, Richard, had polio in his childhood and Duval taught him, first from a wheelchair, and then when he could stand. He eventually had a brief professional bowling career.
Duval was the first woman member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, appointed during the Kennedy administration, and serving for five years.
There will be a memorial service for Duval on Friday at 1 p.m. at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland. In lieu of flowers, a donation in Helen Duval’s name can be sent to the Bowlers to Veterans Link, 11350 Random Hill Rd., Suite 800, Fairfax, VA 22030.