BOWDRE LUCIAN CARSWELL, M.D.
Dr. Bowdre Lucian Carswell died of natural causes in the early hours of Monday, June 13, 2022 at his apartment in the Vista del Monte retirement complex in Santa Barbara, CA.
Dr. Carswell was born January 18, 1926 in Sardis, Georgia into a family with four older brothers and one younger sister. His father, Alex Carswell, was a Southern Baptist minister, CPA, small-town lawyer and educator, and his mother, Marjorie Norris Carswell, was a homemaker who every day read a page of the Bible and a page in the dictionary.
After graduation from high school in Blakely, GA, Bo – as he was known by family and friends – entered the University of Georgia in 1942. After completing the required pre-med courses, he transferred to the Medical College of Georgia graduating with an M.D. shortly after his 21st birthday.
Dr. Carswell served as a Naval officer with the U.S. Air Force at Randolph Field, TX and Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina followed by Navy Flight Surgeon School in Pensacola, FL. He was then assigned to the First Marine Air Wing at El Toro, CA and then deployed to Japan and Korea. Returning from the Korean War in 1952, Dr. Carswell began a 4-year surgical residency followed by a 6-month pathology residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI.
In 1957, Dr. Carswell joined the practice of Dr. Bill Sheehan in Santa Barbara, CA. After Dr. Sheehan’s retirement, Dr. Bo continued to practice there until he retired in March, 1996 at age 70. During the nearly 40 years that he practiced, Dr. Carswell had one of the busiest surgical offices in the county. According to his nephew, John Carswell, “It was hard to go anywhere in Santa Barbara without running into someone Uncle Bo had operated on.”
Dr. Carswell served in many capacities in all of the local hospitals during his long surgical practice and maintained many professional and civic memberships. One of his most cherished honors was to be chosen PHYSICIAN OF THE YEAR in 1994 as the first recipient. He was selected by his peers from both St. Francis Hospital and Cottage Hospital.
As a devout Christian, Dr. Carswell supported Youth For Christ, Sea & Summit (now part of YWAM), the Boy Scouts, the Salt Company at Hollywood First Presbyterian Church, Physicians For Life and was an active member of Santa Barbara’s First Baptist Church until his death.
One of Bowdre’s favorite accomplishments was to have been part of the team (which included his brother Dr. Harold Carswell) that developed the Valle Verde Retirement Community. He was actively involved from the inception in the 1950’s until the doors opened in 1965.
Definitely noteworthy is the unusual fact that Dr. Bo had three brothers who also practiced medicine: Dr. Gus Carswell, orthopedic surgeon in Augusta, GA; Dr. John Carswell, anesthesiologist and Dr. Harold (“Bud”) Carswell, colo-rectal surgeon in Santa Barbara. It was not unusual in Santa Barbara for Dr. Bo and Dr. Bud to be doing surgery together while Dr. John administered the anesthetic.
When he wasn’t involved with patients – which was rare, Dr. Bo could be found playing bridge, billiards or tennis. He also enjoyed bowling, ping pong and shooting pool.
In 1958, Bowdre Carswell married Betty Jean Boyles whom he met while doing his surgical residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Ms. Boyles was an R.N. In 1958, she relocated to Santa Barbara and worked at Cottage Hospital and Sansum Clinic. They married on March 26, 1958 at the First Baptist Church. Theirs was a long and loving marriage and they served together in many worthwhile capacities in the Santa Barbara medical and Christian communities until Betty’s death in 2017.
Survivors include Bowdre’s sister and brother-in-law Marjorie and Jim Brandt of Santa Barbara, brother-in-law Bill Young (Rose) of Youngsville, PA and many nieces and nephews for whom “Uncle Bo” was really a second father throughout their lives.
Enough cannot be said about the extraordinary character of Bowdre Lucian Carswell. He had a selfless, tireless work ethic, was generous, humble, fiercely loyal and always encouraging. Lastly, he was a master jokester and family lore story teller.
A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, June 25, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 949 Veronica Springs Rd, Santa Barbara, CA.
Donations in Dr. Carswell’s memory may be made to St. Francis Foundation, 2323 De La Vina St., Suite 104, Santa Barbara, CA 93105 or to First Baptist Church, 949 Veronica Springs Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105.