Obituary of David Earl Bowin Jr.
If you’re traveling down 101 south to San Luis Obispo, exit Monterey Street and make a left over the freeway. Take notice of the smooth no-bump transition to the over crossing and give a little thanks to our Dad, David Earl Bowin, Jr. Dad called the pothole department over 30 times to get that addressed, and that was typical of him. If it’s broke, fix it. If there’s a need, lend a hand. If there’s an encouraging word to give, give it. If there’s a rose to prune, prune it. And not only did he prune roses faithfully for 70 + years, he blessed many with bouquets of roses with the chief recipient being the love of his life, his wife of over 70 years, Ruth Stockton Bowin.
Dad was born on Feb 23, 1926, in Greenwood Missouri. Life was simple on a small family farm where he learned how to drive a team of horses and plant and harvest corn at a young age. Missouri may be where the stubbornness came from that got many potholes fixed around SLO County, but his stubbornness was tempered through the love of Jesus and demonstrated in kindness, interest and genuine care for others including his older siblings Esther and Jim. Dad was a bit of a handful as a youngster, so his mom shipped him off to school with his older sister, and they both graduated from Pleasant Hill High School in 1943. Dad was student body president that year, a flashy dresser, and for a small guy, pretty decent on the gridiron. His claim to fame came with a drop kick extra point – the first one in school history - to win the championship game in 1942.
Dad was out in the fields plowing with horses when the news came that Pearl Harbor was attacked. His brother Jim joined the Navy in 1942 and Dad followed when he turned 18 in 1944. God blessed both of our families in keeping them from ever seeing the Pacific front. Dad did basic training in Norman Oklahoma and due to his size and accuracy with a gun – squirrel shooting on the farm – he trained to be a rear gunner on the Douglas SBD Dauntless. Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for his descendants, Dad came down with pericarditis and spent the rest of the war in the hospital. He was medically discharged when the war ended in 1945, and after a brief stint in the IRS, made his way west when his Uncle Pat scored a GM car dealership in San Luis Obispo.
Monterey street was the highway when Dad moved to San Luis in 1949 and Uncle Pat’s dealership, Arlen Chevrolet, was right on the main drag, next door to the Fremont Theater. GM was a trend setter those years, taking pride in their employees. Dad was shipped off to the GM Technology Institute in Detroit, where he learned the fine points of the GM automobile and the GM patented accounting system. Dad chose the bookkeeping route, and cars, accounting, and customer service were his career passion for the next 37 years. And speaking of passion, our Mom, Ruth Stockton, walked into the showroom in 1952 looking for a bargain on the leftover 1951 models. Mom bought that 1951 Chevy and didn’t realize at the time that the salesman came with it. Dad wooed and won not only her heart but the entire Stockton family and at the same time, became very attached to their little town of Cayucos, one of his favorite landing spots for the next 70 years. Dad and Mom married on October 24th, 1952, celebrating their 70th anniversary last year. If you asked Dad what the recipe is for a long happy marriage, you would likely hear him quote Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another. And Philippians 2:3, let each esteem others, better than themselves. That pretty much summed up Dad and summed up their 70 years together.
Arlen Chevrolet closed in 1952 when Uncle Pat died, and after a few stints at other dealerships, Dad came back to GM when he joined the O’Reilly family at Standard Motors in 1960. If you bought a Cadillac or Oldsmobile from 1960 to 1990, you met our Dad and were likely impacted by him in some way. And if you ever ran into someone you thought was him but wasn’t wearing a button-down shirt, trust us, it wasn’t him. Dad really wasn’t that buttoned down of a person, but he had a passion for classy button-down shirts and wore them faithfully seven days a week.
Dad and Mom had four amazing kids – Mark, Kristy, Kerry, David and raised them in a beautiful 1930’s Tudor home on North Broad Street where if you happened to walk by you would likely see them out tending the roses or Dad faithfully checking his rain gauge. The backyard was where the fun happened as Dad’s love for sports – (his dad took him to see Lou Gehrig play in 1939) - carried over in the hours he spent playing catch and shooting basketball with the kids.
In 1981 Dad was diagnosed with what could have been terminal cancer, and once again God spared him and blessed us with another 42 years. And Dad filled those years. His thirty-one-day stint in the hospital led to volunteer work at that same hospital for years, where he roamed the halls looking for people to encourage with a prayer, a kind word, and a bouquet of roses from his garden.
Dad officially retired from Standard Motors in 1988 but never retired from life. His ministry consisted of so much more than teaching from a pulpit. Although he did do that at times, Dad’s real ministry was in the attention he gave others. His cards, letters, emails, texts, and even occasional Instagram post, blessed many, many lives over the years. Some of the greatest recipients of that ministry were the twelve grandchildren and thirty-three great children that Dad loved on, invested in and just enjoyed spending time with.
Dad left us on March 16th, 2023, at 97 years of age. Time was a gift to Dad. He used that gift to bless and encourage many, living at a generosity level that might have given the impression he had built a financial empire in those 97 years. But that was not his focus. His vision was on building God’s Kingdom, and he lived that out in love, kindness, and faithful stewardship to his King. We were and are blessed to be recipients of that service. We love you Dad, miss you, and will see you again.
And if you knew Dad, or didn’t know Dad, but think he sounds like a great guy to emulate, then follow Jesus. And while you’re at it, fix a pothole, prune a rose, run an errand for someone, be kind, say an encouraging word, love your neighbor, love your family, kiss your wife, and vote to repeal daylight savings.
(In lieu of sending flowers, the family requests that you buy a bouquet for your neighbor and tell them about Dad and his friend, Jesus).To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of David Bowin Jr., please visit Tribute Store
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