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Columns | Bob Bowman's East Texas

Bob Bowman

June 3, 1936 - July 13, 2013
Bob Bowman

It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Mr. Bob Bowman. In 1998 we first came across one of his (many) books in a county library (far from East Texas). We were impressed with the anecdotal detail of the book and the obvious affection the author had for his subject. It was a bit of a shock when we returned the book to the shelf to find we were not actually in East Texas.

We met in his office in the summer of 2000 and after hearing that the driving force behind Texas Escapes was to be “love of place,” we had his full attention even though (at that time) we barely had 300 town histories. On the spot he graciously allowed us to publish the syndicated history column that he then wrote with Dr. Archie McDonald. After the death of Mr. McDonald, the column became Bob Bowman’s East Texas and the new name conveyed the warmth that this man felt for his region. His column has historically been the most widely read feature of Texas Escapes.

It is safe to say that there was no one that had the encyclopedic knowledge of East Texas than Bob Bowman. It was a first-hand knowledge that was acquired by years of personal conversations in cafes and restaurants and business meetings that were doubless made more personal by Mr. Bowman’s attendance.

His egalitarian nature was of another era as was his quiet demeanor. Had he chosen a life of politics, he would’ve almost certainly become a “household word” but we know that he would rather be remembered for his deep affection of physical East Texas and even more for the people he celebrated, championed and loved.

- Editor July 15, 2013

Mr. Bowman’s official obit follows:

A memorial service for Bob Bowman of Lufkin will be held at Calvary Baptist Church on Thursday, July 18 at 2 pm.

Bob was born in Anderson County on June 3, 1936 and passed away on Saturday, July 13, 2013 in a Lufkin Hospital after a brief illness with pneumonia.

Bowman, owner of Bob Bowman & Associates, Inc., a Lufkin-based public relations agency which served clients throughout the U.S., was also one of Texas’ leading historians and a long-time community leader in Lufkin and East Texas.

He and his wife Doris were the authors of more than 45 books about East Texas. He served as a member of the Texas Historical Commission, president of the East Texas Historical Association, and as a member of the Texas Sesquicenntenial Commission in 1986 and as a member of the Texas Capital Centennial Commission in 1988.

Bowman and his wife Doris were also the only husband and wife to serve as chairs of the Texas Council for the Humanities.

Bowman’s books won numerous awards, including an award by the Texas Historical Commission in 1976 for “Land of the Little Angel” as the best history book published in Texas that year. His books also won two “Book of the Year” awards by the East Texas Historical Association.

Bowman also wrote a weekly history column for about 80 East Texas newspapers.

Bowman’s books spanned all aspects of East Texas, including community and county histories, folklore, travel, restaurants and country cafes, East Texas expressions and idioms, hangings and lynchings, home remedies, East Texas rivers, the Alamo, ghost towns, historic murders, biographies, business histories, the Indians of East Texas, and a series of books on “The Bests of East Texas.”

In Lufkin, Bowman served as a member of the Lufkin City Council for 15 years, as chairman of the Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce, as a member and chair of the Board of Trustees for Angelina College, as chairman of the Angelina and Neches River Authority, chairman of the Angelina County Historical Commission, secretary for the Deep East Texas Development Association, the Pineywoods Economic Partnership, and the Texas Forest Industries Council.

He also served as director of Red River Radio in Shreveport, La., the Chamber of Commerce in Tyler and the East Texas Chamber of Commerce in Longview.

He served as chairman of Lufkin’s Centennial Commission in 1982, received the Ralph W. Steen East Texan of the Year by the Deep East Texas Council of Goverments in 1982, and was one of the founders of the Southern Hushpuppy Cookoffs in Lufkin.

He was also one of the founders of the Pineywoods Foundation of Lufkin, which serves East Texas with charitable contributions. He served as secretary and administrative trustee of the Foundation since its creation in l982.

Bowman also organized the Ottis Lock Endowment for the East Texas Historical Association and served as its chair until 2008.

He and his wife also personally funded a number of historical endowments, including the Best of East Texas Award, given annually to East Texas historians since 2006, and funded a series of annual books on East Texas history by other authors.

Bowman was the oldest son in the family of Elvis Weldon and Annie Mae Bowman of Diboll, graduated from Diboll High School in 1954 and from Tyler Junior College in 1956. In 1986, he was chosen as Alumnus of the Year at TJC.

Bowman’s professional career included service in the newspaper field, the forest products industry, and the oil and gas industry.

He worked for the Diboll Free Press, the Tyler Courier-Times Telegraph, the Lufkin Daily News, and the Houston Chronicle before joining Southland Paper Mills, Inc., in 1966 as its first public relations manager. He also worked for St. Regis Paper Company at Lufkin before joining Delta Drilling Company of Tyler in 1982 as public relations manager before returning to Lufkin in 1985 to found his own company with his wife Doris.

Bowman is survived by his wife, Doris, two sons, Neil of Pearland and Jimmy of Lufkin, his daughter-in-law Ginny of Pearland, two grandsons, Scott and Matthew of Pearland, a sister, Dicy Cunningham of Dallas, and two brothers, Larry of Diboll and Billy of Montgomery.

In lieu of flowers please make donations to the Bob Bowman Journalism Scholarship at Angelina College, PO Box 1768, Lufkin, TX 75902-1768

Gipson Funeral Home, directors.


  • Thank you for the article and obit on Mr. Bob Bowman. What an impressive resume he had. And.....author of 45 books? Amazing! I bet he was one interesting person to meet and talk with. Wish I could have met him. - David Knape, July 18, 2013

  • Today's update must have been one of the hardest you've had to do. I wish now I had made the effort to meet him. He cut a huge swath through East Texas. - Barclay Gibson, July 15, 2013

  • There goes a really well informed man with a knack for making Eastex history interesting and fun. I'll miss his columns. - Frances Giles, July 15, 2013

  • I was sorry to read about Bob Bowman's death on Texas Escapes today. When I first started driving to all the courthouses, Texas Escapes was a major source of information for me. I probably would not have known of him if not for Texas Escapes. I never missed reading one of Mr. Bowman's articles and "carried" his stories with me to all of the places in east Texas that I would visit. - Terry Jeanson, July 15, 2013

  • I am sorry to hear of his passing, since I had always hoped to shake his hand someday. I have a lot of Lufkin history in my veins from the 30's-70's. - Ken Rudine, July 15, 2013

  • Bow Bowman's Columns:

  • Bob Bowman's East Texas >
  • "All Things Historical" archive >

  • Related Topics:
    East Texas | Texas Towns | Columns | Texas

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