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Thomas Bowman

Dec. 3, 1927-Jan. 30, 2009

Thomas Bowman, 81, of Detroit Lakes, died Friday, January 30, 2009.

Born in Duluth, Minn., Tom was a devoted and loving husband and father. Though his heart wasn't strong enough to keep him on this earth any longer, he used it regularly to show others how to live.

Tom graduated from Denfeld High School in Duluth. Before attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth, he served in the United States Army during the end of World War II. After college he moved to Tonopah, Mont., to start his teaching career. There he taught many courses and also drove the school bus on occasion. He wasn't there long before relocating to Chinook, Mont. There he caught the eye of another young teacher, Dolores (Dee) Neff. Tom and Dee married June 3, 1954 in Chinook.

In 54 years of marriage, Tom and Dee raised six remarkable children. Mid-family they made their way to Detroit Lakes, where Tom continued his teaching career (primarily math). Tom and Dee quickly became part of the fabric of the community. He was a longtime member of the Detroit Lakes United Methodist Church, where he served many roles, including carrying a great bass line in the church choir (his musical talents also allowed him to play trombone throughout his youth). Until last year he also delivered lunches to the daycare center children at the church each Friday.

Tom was a worthy athlete in his youth, including a stint on the college tennis team. His love of sports spilled over to his kids, as he coached all the boys through Little League Baseball. Not content to sit on the sidelines, he also coached tennis, football and basketball. He organized the church softball league and Little League and enjoyed bowling and golf well into retirement.

Always keeping busy, he worked at the golf course in retirement -- as much for the social aspect as the frequent opportunity to golf.

As a teacher, he not only brought the language of math to students, but he fostered a love for learning. He continued that dedication in the Foster Grandparenting program, and was tutoring students as recently as last week. He loved to quiz his grandkids on what they were studying, often reminding them, "Don't forget to show your work."

For all the clarity and logic of mathematics, Tom was often found doing logic puzzles, sudoku and putting together 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles in the coolness of the basement. He had a voracious appetite for all things related to the Civil War, and was an avid coin collector. Tom and Dee's home on Big Floyd Lake was the site of many happy family events -- including daughter Barb's wedding.

While the kids enjoyed the water, and playing with the neighbors, Tom tinkered in his garden, bringing his tender hand to a bountiful vegetable harvest each summer.

Tom was a great storyteller, and often regaled his grandkids with exciting tales of his youth. He also had a knack for remembering people whose lives he touched decades ago. His greatest joys were wife Dee, his children, their spouses and grandkids. He had a multitude of friends from golf, church and the Cenex morning coffee crew. We will remember the twinkle in his eyes, and the happiness and easy way about him. He is with the Lord now, at peace and strong in body and spirit.

Tom is survived by wife, Dee of Detroit Lakes; children Bob (Kristi) of Maple Grove, Tom (Debi) of Rapid City, Dennis (Jean) of Fergus Falls, Barb (Al) of Minnetonka, Dave (Lisa) of Savage and Charlie (Joyce) of Moorhead; and his admiring 10 grandchildren.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Emma and Tom Bowman and brother, Bob Bowman.

A memorial service is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 7 at the Detroit Lakes United Methodist Church, with visitation one hour prior to services. Arrangements are being provided by the West-Kjos Funeral Home in Detroit Lakes. Messages of sympathy may be sent to

Memorials are preferred sent to the United Methodist Church.