Local News

March 9, 2014

'A prince and a great man has fallen'

Hundreds say goodbye to educator and humanitarian Charlie Bowen

Several times Charles Bowen Jr. would encourage his dad, Charlie Bowen, to change jobs.

But Charlie Bowen, a longtime educator and humanitarian in Dalton, said he thought he would do best remaining principal at Dalton High School helping young people.

“This wonderful man we honor today was not only my dad, but my principal,” Charles Bowen Jr. said. “It was an interesting challenge being the son of your principal.”

Charles E. Bowen died on Thursday, just a couple of months shy of his 101st birthday. On Sunday, several hundred people gathered at the First Baptist Church of Dalton to say goodbye to a man whose influence reached throughout the community and over the span of many generations.

Charlie Bowen gave announcements over the intercom at the school each morning during his time as principal.

“He would always close with the words ‘May you have a good day,’” Charles Bowen Jr. said. His said his wife Claire, who was also a student at Dalton High while Charlie Bowen was principal, said he said the phrase like it was a prayer or a blessing for the students.

“He would do anything for his students,” Charles Bowen Jr. said. “He touched many lives. Dad was also a great man of faith. Dad loved this church (the First Baptist Church of Dalton) and this community. He loved serving this community.”

For Charlie Bowen, service was just a part of being a Christian. Several times during the funeral, speakers mentioned Bowen’s love for others, his giving spirit and his integrity.

Once the Rev. Phillip Cannon, associate pastor at the church, was called to go speak to someone who was sick.

“I was afraid I wouldn’t have the words to say,” Cannon said. “Who will I call? Charlie Bowen. I was asking my questions and even though he could have answered me with his fountain of knowledge, he let me come to my own answer.”

Referring to the proverb “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime,” Cannon said Bowen taught him to fish.

“He made me struggle toward perfection,” he said.

Bowen taught Cannon more about being a Christian than he learned in seminary, Cannon said. He also made it easier for Cannon to be a Christian.

Two speakers on Sunday, including Cannon, quoted 2 Samuel 3:38, which says “a prince and a great man has died” referring to Bowen.

“He was a voice of wisdom and reason,” said the Rev. Larry Flanagan, who is now retired. “When Charlie Bowen spoke, we all paused to listen to what he said.”

In 47 years in the ministry, Flanagan said he had never encountered anyone as godly as Bowen.

“A voice within said, ‘This man has been with Jesus. Listen to him,’” Flanagan said.

Bowen attended a weekly prayer breakfast with several members from his church until his health was too poor. Flanagan enjoyed hearing Bowen, who began each prayer with Scripture, pray.

“It reminded me of his love and knowledge of Scripture,” Flanagan said.

Micah 6:8 says “He has shown you, o man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?”

Flanagan said that verse described Bowen.

“Charlie Bowen’s life resonated to God’s three-fold requirement to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God,” he said.

Bowen was involved in many agencies, including Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boy Scouts of America.

He was also a member of the Dalton Rotary Club for many years. Even after he was unable to drive himself because of his health, he still attended Rotary and relied on club members to take him each week.

Charles Bowen Jr. said he called his father daily, and on Tuesdays they would talk about Rotary.

Charlie Bowen would say the program was great. His son would ask what it was about, and Charlie Bowen would respond that he didn’t know because he couldn’t hear well enough to hear the speaker, but he still knew it was a great program.

Age didn’t slow Charlie Bowen down. While in his 90s, he often took people to doctor’s appointments; at times the people he took were 20 years younger.

While in his 80s, Charlie Bowen began having health problems and had to wear a monitor for 24 hours. But a terrible storm hit that night, and Charles Bowen Jr. was out of town. Claire Bowen called her husband to tell him she couldn’t get out of their driveway because a tree had fallen across it. He told her to call his dad because he would know someone in the community that could clear the fallen tree.

“Claire called and said ‘Dad’s out there cutting the tree.’ With his heart monitor,” Charles Bowen Jr. said. He said his father defended himself saying that the doctor had told him to continue with daily activities while wearing the monitor.

Charlie Bowen was an avid golfer. At 41 years old he hit his first hole in one, and 41 years later, he hit another, Charles Bowen Jr. said.

But because of failing eyesight, no one Charlie Bowen was playing with actually saw the ball go into the hole. The men were on the green looking for the ball and couldn’t find it until one of them finally looked in the hole, Bowen Jr. said.

 Bowen Jr. said he enjoyed hearing the many stories about his father during the last few days. He said it seemed as though everyone had a Charlie Bowen story to tell.

“While there is considerable sadness... he would certainly not want us to grieve or mourn,” Charles Bowen Jr. said. “He’d want us to celebrate a life lived well.”

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