Col. (Ret.) Lewis Warren Bowker Jr.
CAMP HILL, Penn. — Col. (Ret.) Lewis Warren Bowker Jr., 71, of Hampden Township, Penn., passed away peacefully on Sunday, August 22, 2010, at Holy Spirit Hospital, Camp Hill, Penn., with his devoted family by his side.
Lewis started his wonderful life on July 10, 1939, in Memphis, Tenn. as the son of Lewis and Marguerite (Murphy) Bowker.
He spent his boyhood with his parents and three younger brothers as one of the few Catholic families in the small southern college town of Starkville, Miss., where he and his brothers served as some of the only altar boys for the St. Joseph Catholic Church Parish for many years.
He most significantly met his future wife, his high school sweetheart and fellow classmate, Dorothy Elinor Etheredge, when he moved to Starkville in the fourth grade. He enjoyed being a star football player for the Champion Starkville High School Yellow Jackets and graduated from Starkville High School in 1957.
Lewis and Dorothy jointly cherished and maintained active friendships and participated in countless reunions with their Starkville High School Class of 1957 for the following 53 years.
Lewis received a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Mississippi State University in 1962, a master’s of Business Administration degree from Auburn University in 1975, and his teaching certificate from Wilson College in 1997.
After his graduation from Mississippi State University in 1962, Lewis started what would be 27 years of distinguished military service when he entered the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant on February 26, 1962, serving in the Air Defense Artillery Branch.
Lewis’ military career included tours of duty in Germany, Vietnam, and Korea, work in Somalia and Sudan, as well as moves to and postings in over 10 U.S. states.
He served with the 2nd Missile Battalion, 43rd Artillery at Turner Air Force Base, Ga., during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.
He was stationed near Pforzheim and Ludwigsburg, Germany from 1965 to 1967 where he served as a battery commander in the 3rd Missile Battalion, 71st Artillery.
In 1967, he was deployed to Vietnam for combat duty in the Bien Hoa Province of South Vietnam where he was promoted to the rank of major.
Upon his return to the U.S. in 1968, he married his aforementioned high school sweetheart, Dorothy, on December 27, 1968 and was then stationed several times at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas where both of his children, Melinda and Lewis III were born.
He had his first tour of duty at Camp Stanley near the city of Uijeongbu, South Korea from 1972 to 1973 followed by another tour at Camp Stanley from 1979 to 1980 where he served as the battalion commander of the 61st Air Defense Artillery Battalion of the 2nd Infantry Division.
He was stationed at the Pentagon from 1978 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1982 where he worked with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He was the second in command for recruiting in Niagara Falls, N.Y. where he was promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel and was the Commander of Army Recruiting in Dallas, Texas from 1982 to 1984 where he was proudly promoted to the rank of Colonel.
He was a teacher at the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Penn. from 1984 until his retirement from the military in early 1989.
During his military career he was decorated with the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal among others.
After his retirement from the military, Lewis and Dorothy remained in Hampden Township, Penn., where Lewis was fortunate to embrace a second career as a high school math teacher that would become his passion for the remainder of his life.
He was asked to teach math at St. Catherine Laboure School in Harrisburg for a year in 1994 and enjoyed the experience so much that he decided to officially pursue his teaching certificate which he obtained from Wilson College in 1997.
After teaching at various schools in the area, Lewis formally found what he described as his ‘dream job’ in the autumn of 2000 when he began teaching math at Trinity High School, a Catholic High School in Camp Hill, Penn., and the high school from which both of his children had graduated.
Lewis and Dorothy became fully integrated into the Trinity High School community and Lewis was not only an enthusiastic teacher but an avid supporter of Trinity’s various athletic teams.
He enjoyed attending the school dances, proms, and other events, where he often joined in for several dances himself or with his wife Dorothy to the great delight of the students.
He was active in communicating his Catholic faith by participating in the Kairos religious retreats for students and was enthusiastic about sharing his passion for the University of Notre Dame football team with any and all who would listen.
Lewis is survived by his loving wife and partner of 41 years, Dorothy Etheredge Bowker; his devoted adult children, Melinda Bowker and Lewis Bowker III; his youngest brother, Robert Bowker and Robert’s wife, Rhonda Leonard Bowke; as well as his adult niece and nephews Brennan Bowker, Martin Bowker, and John Bowker.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his beloved younger brothers Edward Bowker and John Bowker.
Lewis’ family, friends, and colleagues will miss his towering frame, his infectious laugh, his clarity and common sense, his commitment to his Catholic faith, his bravery, his love for his wife and children, and his immense passion for life.
Lewis’ vigil and funeral mass were both held on Friday, August 27, 2010, at his parish church, The Church of the Good Shepherd, 3435 Trindle Road, Camp Hill, Penn.
The public vigil took place on the church premises from 9:30 to 11 a.m. followed by the Funeral Mass starting at 11 a.m. with the parish pastor and Lewis’ friend, Rev. Paul C. Helwig officiating.
In accordance with his wishes, Lewis will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va. on Dec. 9, 2010. Funeral arrangements were provided by Neill Funeral Home, 3401 Market St, Camp Hill, Penn.
The family asks that people honor Lewis by making a donation in his name to his employer of the last 10 years, Trinity High School, 3601 Simpson Ferry Road, Camp Hill, PA 17011 or go to the website at http://www.trinityhs.k12.pa.us/ or the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 811 W Evergreen Avenue Suite 303, Chicago, IL 60642 and their website is http://www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org/.