Gayle Irene Bowman (Cline)
Gayle Irene Bowman (Cline) was born November 13, 1942. She grew up in Solon, Ohio (CLE) and was the oldest of three (Gary and Greg). From a young age, it was obvious Gayle (Rusty) loved the outdoors and being active. During her senior year of high school (Brush High), her majorette team won the state championship. At this time, the CLE Browns asked her team to be the Sunday Cheerleaders. During the 1959 season, she and her team cheered on her Brownies every home game, with her parents in the stands. She kept her game programs and her embroidered patch all these years, including Jim Brown’s autograph that she got at the team dinner that season. The home in Santa Barbara is still a Browns Dawg Pound.
Growing up, she attended summer camps and swam, which became her number one activity her entire life- swimming 6 miles per week just weeks ago. She took the bus/rail at age 8 to the downtown YMCA in Cleveland, got to the 5th floor, took her lesson, and then got back home- all by herself. In high school. Left handed, in school they tied her hand behind her back at times. They wanted all kids to be right handed- she always said, “That’s why I have such terrible handwriting.” Simply, working hard was just a way of life.
After high school, she attended Bowling Green State University (BGSU). She worked when not studying and sent every penny back home to her dad who was paying for college. She lived in a house with sorority sisters, Alpha Xi Delta, which came with a house mom that made the food. Walking back in the snow from swimming, she would stay up late studying and drinking coffee. She often said, “While the popular girls were sitting in the sun, I was out in the water swimming with the boys. I did not see the fun just sitting there.” In the summer, she taught horseback riding at Red Raider Summer Camp. “We had one carriage that carried all the supplies. We rode all day along country roads. In the evening, we stopped at various farms and set up camp for the night. It was the best summer job I ever had.”
She began teaching at Roxboro Elementary school in Solon, Ohio, after earning her teaching credential. ONE year of driving in the winter and wanting to be outdoors all the time, Los Angeles, CA arrived to a hiring fair. She and her buddy, Carole, signed up and that summer, got in a two car caravan and headed out west- long before GPS, Mapquest, or the Internet. Her dad and brother behind them, she and Carole made it- only small mishap were the two cars getting separated for a day. She began with Carole in 3rd grade, but after that year made a move to Santa Barbara in 1966 to teach at what was Wilson Elementary- the Wildcats! She LOVED her students and talked about them for years. She was once told that her room had too much color so she had to add more grey and black. The principal wrote a book years after Wilson closed and noted that Gayle was the one teacher that could instruct 30 kids without ever raising her voice. After a short time, she met her first husband, Jim Regan, a Marine Corp Vietnam Vet and SB Deputy Sheriff. After the birth of “Robbie”, she quit teaching. Two boys later, Corey and Garrett, she must have thought at times, “30 students was easier than these three.” She worked as the preschool teacher for all three at the YMCA. She never lost her “teaching” style as it was evident years later with her 5 grandkids. Movie and dinner had a theme- including arts and crafts.
When the boys were about 3, 5, and 7, they joined the Samarkand Swim and Tennis Club. This is where the boys could run and swim after school and in the summer. She loved the years there. The boys competed in swimming and she swam her laps meeting lifelong friends. A few years later, she and Jim divorced.
Gayle at one time worked 3 part time jobs to support the boys. The boys began doing weekly chores (the chore chart), picked out Christmas gifts at the Unity Shoppe, and sold cans of peanuts so they could attend summer camps. Nature Camp, Bluff Lake with the Y, and others would become a staple during the summers. All this time, the boys slowly built up the idea of hard work, do your best, stay positive, determination, and more. The boys excelled in sports and were always admired for their hard work, even though they just saw it as the way you should be. Thanks, mom!
Around 1979, she met Doug Bowman, a local high school teacher and tennis player at Samarkand. He taught history at San Marcos and SB Junior High until his retirement. Together, they had a life of traveling to Hawaii, Catalina (family summer trips), skiing trips, tennis tournaments, and New Mexico.
Rusty was a regular at Los Banos- Masters Swimmer. Her group was affectionately called, The Mermaids. Upon a birthday, they hit the showers singing, “Happy Birthday” in their birthday suits! Her routine was to swim six miles per week, run 3, and walk to the gym to lift. She was constantly moving! She loved working with her hands in the garden and believed it was important for people to work with the earth. She cherished her yard. In addition, she spent her second career in accounting and did the books for the house. She was always giving advice to the boys about managing money and not overextending. If she thought you were, she had a way of saying your name with a slight delay. If you heard your full name, you were in real trouble.
Gayle was adored by many. She attended reunions at Brush High and BGSU over the years. She visited Cleveland last winter with Robbie and walked the streets downtown reliving many childhood memories -Former Higbies, Euclid Beach Carousel, the rail system, and more . She also took a trip to Two Harbors last year with Corey’s family noting it was “soulful” being around the water and island. Her friends from Samarkand, Solon, Hidden Valley, Los Banos, and Bowling Green remained very important to her all her life.
Doug Bowman (his daughter Erin) Robert and Susan Regan (Davis, Patrick, and Eleanor) Corey and Karena Regan (Tyler and Hannah) Garrett Regan Brother Greg of Ohio and his wife, Nancy (her “sister”) Sister In Law- Jeannie (our aunt who always let us stay over to play with our cousins)
Her nieces and nephews, Nicole, Natalie, Matt, Brennen, and Makenzie.
As in her life, she would not want attention. In lieu of anything for Rusty, the family requests donations on her behalf, or yours, be made to Serenity House or Friends of Los Banos (or the pool association in general). A memorial will be held at her residence on Jan. 6 at 2PM.