Board of Governors News
In Memoriam: D. Oliver Bowman (1931-2023)
When Oliver Bowman passed away in his sleep on July 25 at the age of 92, the Poetry Society suffered the loss of our finest, most beloved central figures. Generations of Poetry Society members have experienced his friendship and graciousness, from his first appearance before the group in 1963 right up to the time of his unexpected death. When I got the sad news, my impulse was to write a eulogy that could express the magnitude of this loss, but I soon realized it was an impossible task. His impact on the Poetry Society as an organization is incalculable, and it is dwarfed by the individual stories and memories each of us who knew him hold dear. Beyond the Poetry Society, Oliver held a place of esteem in numerous circles, from the thousands of Citadel cadets he taught, to the patients of his psychology practice, his work in community theater, his work and leadership in professional psychology organizations, as a member of the congregation of St. Stephen's Church, and his financial support of varied, untold causes and organizations.
I last saw Oliver in person in late March when I interviewed him for my PSSC Newsletter column "Member Spotlight," which appeared in April. As with every other time I conversed with him since we first met in 2005, time flew by unnoticed. When I got home, I realized that our short interview was over three hours long, just a fraction of which made it to the finished column. Although age had slowed him down a bit, he was still walking five miles a day, reading for hours in the morning sun, and doing what for him was probably his favorite part of life: engaging with people. Oliver was an artist when it came to conversation, and he was even better at listening than talking. I saw Oliver one last time by way of Zoom on May 19 for the board meeting of the South Carolina Academy of Authors. As always, Oliver was never one to dominate a conversation, but when he spoke it was with wisdom, discernment, and experience.
Over the years, I noticed that Oliver used the word "gentleman" to assign his highest level of esteem for a man's character. You could tell by the way he said it--with reverence--that the quality that encompasses the word was the best thing a man could aspire to be. My first impulse to write the perfect eulogy for Oliver was a futile task; his life was too large to summarize and the loss is too unfathomable. So, perhaps the best thing I could say, the best way to do any justice to his memory whatsoever, is to say this: Oliver Bowman was a true gentleman.
- Jim Lundy