CHEYENNE – Joe Hubka may have to start getting a golf cart for his almost daily nine-hole rounds next year.
The thought frustrates him.
“I have never used a cart, but I’ve really started to slow down the past two years,” he said.
Most 86-year-olds have spent decades riding a cart to their next shot, and can’t imagine playing the game any other way.
Joe Hubka isn’t like most 86-year-olds.
Not by a long shot.
The Cheyenne resident was entered in 21 events at the Wyoming Senior Olympics, which ended Saturday. He competed in mixed doubles bowling, track and field, swimming and the 10-kilometer cycling time trial.
Hubka’s efforts after three days of competition pushed his career medal haul from the Senior Games close to 250. Twenty years-worth of medals adorn one of the office walls in the home he shares with his wife, Shirley. The medals are creeping onto a second wall.
The Hubkas have been married for 66 years after meeting at a dance at the Eagles Lodge. They have three children, seven grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
“I can’t remember the names of half of them,” Hubka said with a laugh, “but I’ve always been terrible at remembering names.”
Of the 10 events Hubka competed in Friday, five of them were in the swimming pool. He sidestroked his way through the freestyle events because it allowed him to keep his face out of the water and breathe freely. Hubka steadily plugged away after most of the fields had finished, and was welcomed to the finish by cheers and applause.
He is a fan-favorite.
Hubka was drafted into the Army in 1953, where he served as a shooting instructor and taught new recruits the finer points of firing an M1 rifle.
He spent another 10 years in the Army Reserve after his active duty stint was complete. Hubka followed that with 22 years in the Wyoming Air National Guard.
He spent 44 years with Union Pacific Railroad, starting as a telegraph operator before working as an engineer on a route between Cheyenne and North Platte, Nebraska.
Hubka has hardly slowed down since he retired.
In addition to golfing nearly every day, he bowls in three winter leagues, regularly rides his bike, swims once per week, and walks at F.E. Warren Air Force Base a few times each week.
Hubka also enjoys polka dancing because the people are so cheerful. As if his plate wasn’t already overflowing, Hubka also plays the baritone in the Cheyenne Concert Band.
“He doesn’t like to sit around,” said Terry Hubka, who spent Friday afternoon keeping an eye on the newest medals in his father’s collection. “He is always doing something.”
Joe considers himself lucky. He has never really had any problems with his heart, lungs or joints. He had two scares with blood clots, but those dissolved relatively quickly.
“If I’m healthy enough to do something, I’m going to do it,” he said matter-of-factly. “I might be old, but I can still do it. I have been very fortunate.”