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
July 15, 2013
Mr. Bowman’s more detailed official obit follows:
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Rudine, July 15, 2013