Melvin Jones Fellow: Robert D. Bowen
 Bob Bowen photo

Bob Bowen was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 6, 1936. Richard J. Daley signed his birth certificate and George W. Bush was born exactly 10 years later. Thomas Jefferson and Rachel Bowen were his parents. They grew up in Stronghurst, Illinois, and Astoria, Illinois, respectively. Bob grew up with two older brothers, William (deceased) and Al, a present resident of Wesley Village in Macomb, Illinois. He graduated from Proviso East High School with Ray Nitschke ­ both were on the school's freshman wrestling team at different weight classes.

Bob met Andrea Borla in high school in 1953 and married her in Chicago in 1957. They have six children: Don (Eileen) in Peoria, Illinois; Susan DeRoos (Alan) in Macomb, Illinois; Julie Frank (John) in Marion, Iowa; Barb Stewart (Michael) in Indianapolis, Indiana; Anita Meltzer (Charles) in Sterling, Illinois; and Steve (Tammy) in Angola, Indiana; and 13 grandchildren. Manchester College in North Manchester, Indiana, granted Bob a BA in Business Administration in 1958 and Andrea a BA in English in 1957. They each have an MS in Education from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. In 1972, Bob received the degree of EdD from Indiana University in Educational Administration.

Bob operated an insurance agency from 1958 to 1961 after graduating from Manchester College where he lettered four years on the tennis team. He taught English at the junior high level in Peru, Indiana (1961); and students with intellectual disabilities in Rochester, Indiana (1962-66). Following a two-year residency on a federal grant for special education at Indiana University, he served as Director of the newly formed West Central Illinois Special Education Cooperative in Macomb, serving 36 school districts in five counties (1968-1976). From 1976-1981, Bob was the Director of the Western Illinois Association serving the educational needs of students who were blind, deaf, physically disabled, and/or emotionally disturbed in 11 counties, including the Quad Cities, Kewanee, Galesburg, Monmouth, and Macomb.

From 1981 to 1985, Bob was the Business Manager of the Mt. Zion School District in Mt. Zion, Illinois. His last year (1985-86) in education was spent as Superintendent of the St. Elmo School District in St. Elmo, Illinois. From 1986 to 1991, Bob traded commodities, operated a computer rental business, and provided handyman services for people in need. From 1991 to 2000, Bob served Bridgeway, Inc. in Macomb as Director of Residential Finances, where he helped adults with mental illness and intellectual disabilities with their financial affairs. In 2000, Bob retired to full-time volunteer service, the golf course, racquetball and tennis courts.

In 1992, Bob helped to form the ecumenical food pantry of Loaves and Fishes, Etc. The pantry is supported by 10 congregations in the Macomb community and housed in the First Presbyterian Church where he has served as a Ruling Elder for three different 3-year periods. The pantry provides food and other assistance to over 300 households in McDonough County each month, and Bob has served as Secretary for the Board of Directors from 1993 to the present.

Under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church, Bob spent 2 12 months in 10 countries in Africa in 1965 to learn about the church's ministry there and then returned to report his observations to interested Indiana congregations. In 1996, Bob spent 10 days in Brazil helping to prepare a partnership arrangement for the mutual benefit of the Presbyterian Churches around Peoria, Illinois, and Natal, Brazil.

From 2006 to the present, Bob has served on the McDonough County Dental Clinic Task Force created for the purpose of establishing dental services for Medicaid families and children in McDonough County. He was one of three coordinators who promoted and managed a Scavenger Hunt in Macomb as a fundraiser for the Dental Clinic. The Clinic was established in Macomb in March of 2008 under the name, Eagle View Health System.

Bob has been a member of the Macomb Lions Club for over 30 years: from 1968 to 1981 and from 1991 to the present. He was the first member to serve twice as the Club's President (1980-81, and 1999-2000). He served as the Club's treasurer from 2001 to 2007. Bob has also served as Chair of the Community Services Committee and Fund Raising Committee - including Chair for the two major activities of Candy Day and the sale of Light Bulbs and Brooms. Bob's garage often serves as the Bulbs and Brooms depot. His membership activities have demonstrated that he strongly believes in the Lions motto: We Serve.

-Bob Bowen

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