Ron DeFrance was the host of Bowling for Dollars for four years.
By Michael Lewis
Ron DeFrance, a long-time Rochester, N.Y. TV personality and former Rochester Lancers announcer, passed away Sunday. He was 82.
DeFrance diagnosed with cancer in February. He passed away at Patrick Place Comfort Care Home in Scottsville, N.Y. Sunday.
A former sports announcer, DeFrance was a member of the Rochester Lancers Wall of Fame as he did play-by-play for the North American Soccer League team.
During a four-year span (1973 to 1977), DeFrance was the host of Rochester’s most popular TV show, Bowling for Dollars on Channel 13. At the height of its popularity, the show reached 152,000 viewers a day, a considerable amount for a city the size of Rochester.
The amiable DeFrance’s folksy charm fit in well with the show.
“The show was made for me,” DeFrance told the Democrat and Chronicle in 1974. “What I mean is that I can be myself and be casual. That’s the type of person I am and Bowling for Dollars give me a chance to be myself on the air. I think that’s the kind of emcee they wanted.”
A 1955 graduate of Aquinas Institute, DeFrance’s friend, Eddie Meath urged him to skip college and get some broadcasting experience right away. DeFrance’s first radio job was a Rock ‘N Roll announcer at WAXC-AM in Newark, N.Y, east of Rochester, before working at stations in Columbia, S.C. and Ithaca, N.Y.
DeFrance was hired as a staff announcer at WOKR-TV (Channel 13) and eventually was promoted to sports director before becoming the host of Bowling for Dollars.
“It was kind of a letdown going from Bowling for Dollars int sports, where it became cut and dried,” DeFrance said. “It was hard for me to get back into that swing again.”
DeFrance also was the host of weekly shows Fun-Time Junior Bowling and the Brighton-Panorama TV Roll-offs. He also was the executive director of the Greater Rochester Area Bowling Proprietors Association.
During his Lancers Wall of Fame introduction speech Andrew Battisti noted that DeFrance was the Lancers play-by-play man on WOKR match broadcasts with Charlie Schiano on color commentary and served as MC for many events and promotions at Holleder Stadium for the Lancers. He also did play-by-play for the Red Wings and high school sports.
DeFrance is a member of the Frontier Field Walk of Fame, the Bowlers Alliance of Rochester Hall of Fame and the Rochester USBC Bowling Association Hall of Fame. He was named Rochester Press-Radio Club Sportscaster of the Year in 1984.
On June 30, DeFrance was inducted into the Lancers Wall of Fame in ceremonies between games of a doubleheader involving the Lancers’ men and Lady Lancers games at Marina Auto Stadium. DeFrance could not attend the induction.
DeFrance was the second Lancers’ media personality who passed away this year. Lancers’ radio announcer Wayne Fuller died in February.