William Kenneth Bowen, 87 years of age, born on July 14, 1933, residing in Claxton, Georgia, passed on February 11, 2021, another victim of the COVID-19 virus, and losing his wife, Wealthy Bradley Bowen, just weeks earlier, also to COVID.
It was important to him, for those who knew him to understand, he gave the good fight and was proud of winning the war against the virus, but succumbing to its aftermath, despite his every effort.
Even battling on, he always took the time to learn about each nurse and physician caring for him, his mind being sharp as a pin, never forgetting a name and bragging about the excellent care he was receiving at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah and particularly Dr. Watts on the COVID floor and Dr. Curro on the Intermediate Care floor. So many nurses, all deserving of special merit, worked to make him comfortable. Thank you to each and every one: from the family!
As a young man growing up on a farm, he dreamed of traveling the world, which he did, making a career in the Air Force with four children in tow -- which he gained sole custody of in a time when a man winning custody of his children was uncommon -- and later a fifth child.
Tours in Germany, Korea, Thailand, Greenland, Japan and the Philippines were just a few places he traveled.
He retired after serving 26 years to come home once again. He took a job as a substitute teacher and returned to college himself to complete his degree.
He was always a steward of learning, and especially astute in learning languages -- speaking several -- and always exploring each country he visited using their native tongue. He retired with the rank of senior master sergeant.
Longing for the home in which he grew up, he returned to the family farm, where he lived his remaining years. He lived a long life, a good life.
After marrying, then experiencing the heartache of divorce, remarrying and then losing two wives, he at last reunited with the love of his life, Wealthy, with whom he had gone to grade school, in his final 23 years of life.
From the news of his contracting COVID-19 on January 9, 2021, his son, Kenneth Craig, became his worthy caretaker, with his daughters, Michelle and Debra, coming from Texas to aid. His son, William "Billy" from Florida completed the siblings' arrival to rally around their father.
Kenneth Craig also tested positive for COVID, but suffered with milder symptoms. The outpouring of phone calls and cards of concern brought comfort to the family, not knowing that their father was so loved, and the immense number of people that shared this love. It had only been weeks prior that he lost his beloved wife, Wealthy Bradley Bowen, to COVID, adding another devastating loss to the community where they both will surely be missed.
While hospitalized, he looked to his oldest daughter, Debra, to navigate his care with the aid of his first born grandson, Jason. As only one visitor is allowed in the hospital -- and it must be the same one each time -- Jason was chosen for this task. Once he was moved to hospice care, Jason never left his side, keeping the family abreast of what was going on. He enjoyed Jason's company, as Jason did his best to keep things upbeat. At his request, even combed his hair and kept him clean-shaven. Jason jokingly said, "Don't snitch to the boys, but me and grandfather just got through playing dress up with Chapstick and playing with our hair."
Before being hospitalized, his sons, Kenny and Billy, spent hours in the parking lot in the bitter cold, while he was being evaluated as a possible recipient of the antibody infusion. After being approved -- a three hour process -- he returned the next day to receive an antibody infusion and again the evening after for admission into the hospital, another three and a half hours. He arrived with his oxygen level at 70 percent. Once stabilized, his oxygen went back to 94 percent, and after getting settled in his room, he called his family to tell them he was all checked in at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, and the staff was taking good care of him. (He always a sense of humor).
Following the medical protocol given to the president as a guide to combat COVID-19, he was given the rounds of recommended vitamins, followed by an antibody infusion, steroids, Remdesivir and adding a plasma infusion. He graduated off the COVID floor at the hospital to the intermediate care floor to recover from COVID's aftermath. He gave it the good fight, winning the first battle. It was the aftermath in which he could not sustain, and did so for 34 days from testing positive.
He had a soft spot in his heart for his youngest daughter, Michelle, and his only sister, Marguerite, with whom he simply could not speak to after being admitted. He knew they would break down, which would, in turn, send an arrow through his heart. He had to avoid any emotional triggers that would compromise his breathing, but never failed to send them heartfelt messages.
His final wish was for the safety of the community. He wanted all to know COVID-19 is real, devastating and tearing families apart. He urges all to wear a mask and social-distance for the sake of your loved ones and for the sake of the community.
Funeral: Due to the pandemic, the gravesite services will be private, with only very immediate family members attending. The funeral was held on February 16, 2021, at 11 a.m.
Arrangements were entrusted to Mellie Nesmith Funeral Home.
William Kenneth Bowen will be put to rest with the American flag under which he served, dressed in a beautiful Air Force Blue suit. His family will honor him, posted at attention, with the gesture of a soldier saluting as final send off.
Past family members, his son, Christopher William Bowen, who left this earth too early, and his beloved wife, Wealthy, will be waiting in the forefront to take him home.
It is his wish, in lieu of flowers, to allow for a benefit lasting further than the life of flowers, that donations be made to the following: Bowen-Dekel Cemetery Fund, c/o Lester Kicklighter, 1201 Shasta Court, Statesboro, GA 30458; a family cemetery where past ancestors were laid to rest, in which he took great interest and action in restoring and has yet to be completed; Ephesus Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery Fund, 1916 Chatsworth Court, Statesboro, GA 30461, where he is laid to rest; or United Missionary Baptist Church, c/o Cathy Neville, 1668 Neville Dairy Road, Register, GA 30452, in which he was a member.
Survivors: two daughters and two sons, Debra Ann Bowen Moline (John), Michelle Denise Bowen, both of Austin, Texas; Kenneth Craig Bowen of Bluffton, S.C.; William Robert Bowen of Melbourne, Fla.; seven grandchildren, and stepchildren, Sammy (Vickey) Anderson of Claxton, Lester LaRae (Kathy) Anderson of Bulloch County and Lehman Eugene (Gwen), Sherryl Teresa Anderson of Swainsboro; two brothers, Alfred Jackson Bowen of Register, Ga.; Charles Elliot of Claxton, Ga.; and one sister, Alice Marguerite Bowen Cavanaugh of Ocala, Fla.
He was preceded in death by three brothers, James Harold Bowen, Martin Eastwood "Marty" Bowen and Cole Randford "Randy" Bowen.
Statesboro Herald, February 18, 2021
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