John Vance Bowmer '52

Jack Bowmer died on February 23, 2008, at his home in Pasadena, CA, after a long illness. 

Jack was born in Pittsburgh, and later moved to Williamsville, NY, a suburb of Buffalo.  He graduated from the Nichols School and was drawn to Amherst by his experiences at summer camp, where two of his counselors spoke enthusiastically about the College.  He was a member of Theta Xi, serving the fraternity as social chairman and president, and was my roommate for two years.  He graduated cum laude with a degree in economics. 

Following graduation, Jack entered the US Army, and went through OCS training at Fort Dix, getting his commission just as the Korean War ended. He had wanted to join the US Navy, but they said his eyesight wasn’t good enough.  Nevertheless, the US Army, in its infinite wisdom, had assigned him to train as a forward artillery observer. 

In 1954, Jack joined what is now Citigroup, initially in the branch system in New York, then transferring to commercial banking as a lending officer for energy and information systems. In 1973, following a divorce, he married Janet Ostrom, who survives him.  In 1978, Jack was transferred to Houston, where he was senior lending officer to the oil and gas industry.  My daughter Melinda spent a month one summer there babysitting their son James.  She loved the Bowmers.

In 1985, Jack was transferred to Los Angeles, where he managed lending services to top-tier companies throughout the western United States.  He retired in 1989 as senior vice president after thirty-five years with the bank.  To quote Janet from his New York Times obituary, “friends and associates will remember him for his strong professional ethics as a banker’s banker, and especially for his martini-dry sense of humor.” 

For the next two years, Jack and his family lived in Auckland, New Zealand, where he served as a consultant to the Bank of New Zealand.  He often said these were two of the best years of his life.

In 1991, the Bowmers moved to Madison, CT.  During the three years they lived there, Charline and I saw Janet and Jack often.  We shared good times, good memories, good food, and many martinis.  Jack and Janet then moved to Pasadena, CA, and also bought a condo on the north coast of Kauai, where they both, but particularly Jack, had frequent and long visits.  Unfortunately, his health began to deteriorate two years ago, and Kauai was no longer an option. 

Besides Janet and James, Jack is survived by three children from his first marriage:  Nancy, Deborah, and John.  Janet jokingly refers to herself as the trophy wife of thirty-four years.  Having known her since before their marriage, I can say she is much more than that—a truly delightful woman. 

Janet would be happy to hear from Jack’s classmates.  Her address is available from the Alumni Office.

—John Daniels ’52