John Clarke Bowman
John Clarke Bowman, beloved husband, father, and grandfather, passed away on November 20, 2022 at his home in Goleta after a long life, well lived.
He was born to John and Eleanor Bowman on November, 23, 1941, in Los Angeles, where his father worked in television and movies. In his childhood, John’s family moved overseas, as his father traveled to research novels he was writing. John attended local schools in Spain and Switzerland and quickly picked up Spanish and French. Back in the United States for high school at Phillips Academy-Andover he also studied German and Russian.
John went to Stanford University, where he met September (Temmy) Wilson during their freshman year. They married after graduating in 1963 and were together until the last moments of his life. During summers in college, John worked as an extra in Hollywood on shows like McHale’s Navy and The Naked City. Following graduation, he spent five years in the Air Force, including three years as an intelligence officer in Germany during the Cold War.
After the military, John went to graduate school at UCSB and he and Temmy fell in love with the area. John first worked as a bank officer, then as a professor of business and finance at Santa Barbara City College. In the late 1980s, he started his own business working as a financial expert witness for local lawyers, usually on complex family law cases. Although he often worked on hard-fought matters, John somehow managed to get along with the lawyers and parties on both sides of his cases. John even became close friends with people whose spouses he had represented during their divorces, and lawyers who were against him often rushed to hire him on the next case.
Working for himself allowed John and the family the flexibility to take trips every year. He lived for the adventures he took each year, which included following Shackleton’s journey on a ship through the Antarctic, dancing with headhunters in Borneo and with Uighurs in the Gobi Desert, and squeezing himself into tunnels used by the Vietcong outside of Saigon. Having traveled around the world, including every continent, his favorite trip of all was with Temmy to see the mountain gorillas in Uganda.
A traveler rather than a tourist, John planned each trip carefully and studied at least a bit of the language for each country he visited. He spoke many languages with varying levels of fluency, but always with lots of enthusiasm. On his overseas trips, John started conversations with just about everyone he met, whether they wanted to talk with him or not. While sometimes taken aback, people were invariably won over by his humor and good nature. We often ended the day on these trips eating dinner with our taxi driver’s family or being shown around the town by the brother of the museum ticket taker. In all, John traveled to 104 countries and likely made a friend in every one of them.
John loved Stanford sports and would send out emails to his friends celebrating every recent Stanford accomplishment. (“Did you see what their women’s volleyball team just did?!?”) He was also devoted to community service, serving on the Santa Barbara Civil Grand Jury and on the Rancho Embarcadero Board of Directors. And when the Santa Barbara school district decided to close Dos Pueblos High School in the early 1990s, John was one of many who successfully worked to change the district’s mind.
At home, John loved spending time with his family, in particular playing card games (he was a ruthless Canasta player) with his children or board games with his grandchildren. He never let anyone win on purpose (no matter how young the opponent), he gloated excessively when he won, and happily pretended to be crushed when his child or grandchild beat him.
While cheerful and optimistic, John’s most defining trait was his integrity. He believed in doing the right thing, all the time, even when (particularly when) that was a hard thing to do. He was the person people sought out when faced with a difficult problem or crisis and his advice was always straightforward and delivered without judgment. The world is a harder place to navigate with him gone.
John leaves behind his loving wife Temmy, his son Bill Bowman, daughter Allison Klein (Dean Klein), and son James Bowman (Shirley Sanematsu), along with grandchildren Andrew, Katie, Jason, Emma, Aya, and Keiko. We miss him dearly.
The family wants to thank the caregivers who looked after John the last years of his life, especially Elvira Custodio and Denise Cervantes, as well as the VNA Hospice (Dr. Michael Bordofsky, Laura Guerrero RN, volunteer David Sparer) and everyone at The Friendship Center in Goleta.
People wanting to honor John can send a donation to the Unity Shoppe at 1207 State Street, Santa Barbara CA 93101 or go to https://unityshoppe.org/ways-to-give/.
A memorial service will be held on June 3, 2023 in Goleta. Please contact the family at JohnBowmanMemorial@gmail.com for the time and location.