A New Jersey Native Son
Thomas H. Bowden Jr. grew up in Glen Ridge, N.J., about a dozen miles due west of Manhattan, and, like any self-respecting son of New Jersey, he was deeply, openly and emotionally loyal to Bruce Springsteen. He once argued to his skeptical father that the Boss trumped the Chairman of the Board as New Jersey's greatest voice. How, then, to explain Mr. Bowden's love of the Boston Red Sox? Even his mother, Sheilah Bowden, was a little baffled by that one. The best she could come up with is that her son had a soft spot for underdogs.
Mr. Springsteen would understand.
Mr. Bowden was 36, an equities trader at Cantor Fitzgerald. He started there in 1993, the same week as the first terror attack on the World Trade Center. He and his wife, Deborah, had two children, Sara, 22 months, and Alyson, born two weeks early on Aug. 31. His family now views this last fact as a small gift from God.
One of his finest qualities, his mother said, was a fierce protectiveness of family and friends. He remained close to boys he first met in grade school. Early in the morning he would stand over Sara's crib, fortifying himself with her smile. Now, thanks to his friends, she has a necklace with a silver heart engraved with his initials.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 22, 2001.
Thomas Bowden Jr., 36, larger than life
When he married his wife, Deborah, six years ago next week, Thomas Bowden Jr. invited 340 friends and family members along. He tried, but he just couldn't make the list any shorter.
For all his life, Mr. Bowden loved being surrounded by those close to him. "He said we had to invite everyone he listed because they all meant so much to him," said Deborah Bowden of Wyckoff. "And everyone came. Our wedding was one huge party. We paid the band extra because we went an hour-and-a-half over what we had planned."
Sunny, gregarious and fiercely loyal to those he loved, Mr. Bowden, 36, a bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald Securities in New York, was lost in the attack on the World Trade Center last Tuesday. Besides his wife, he leaves two daughters, Sara, 21 months, and Alyson, 15 days old, and a network of family and friends who extend from his boyhood days on Glen Ridge's Edgewood Avenue.
"I couldn't imagine having a better older brother because he was like a rock," said his brother, Paul Bowden, a Fairfield police officer. "Everyone loved him."
Modest about his financial success, Mr. Bowden was generous to a fault, his family said.
When a relative lost her job, an ample, unsolicited check arrived in the mail from Mr. Bowden. When another family member's basement was flooded by a cracked water heater, he paid for the repairs, no questions asked. One time, he carried a stranger with crutches over a snowbank so the man could enter a Bloomfield restaurant, said his mother, Sheilah Bowden. "Everywhere he was, he made a difference and he never talked about it."
A sports fanatic, especially for the Miami Dolphins and the Boston Red Sox, Mr. Bowden possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of the teams. "He charted his life events based on what sporting events happened that day," his sister, Kathryn Bowden, recalled.
He wouldn't eat vegetables or blueberry muffins. He thought E- ZPass was a conspiracy. His friends called them "Bowdenisms," the things that only Mr. Bowden would think or do.
He was the kind of husband, his wife said, who would sneak up on her as she stood at the sink doing dishes and hug her from behind.
She'd like to believe that their second child -- born two weeks before her due date on Aug. 31 -- arrived early, a gift from God, so that "her father would get to know her."
Mr. Bowden attended Virginia Western Community College and Fairleigh Dickinson University in Rutherford. He had worked for Cantor Fitzgerald since 1993.
In addition to his wife, two daughters, mother, brother and sister, Mr. Bowden is survived by his father, Thomas Bowden, and a brother, James Bowden of Glen Ridge.
A memorial Mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Sacred Heart Church, 76 Broad St., Bloomfield. Arrangement were made by O'Boyle Funeral Home in Bloomfield.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Sara Bowden Education Fund-Alyson Bowden Education Fund c/o 419 W. 48th St., 4th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10036.
Profile by Kitta MacPherson published in THE STAR-LEDGER.