Robert L. Bowman Obituary

Robert “Bob” L. Bowman, 79, of Benton Harbor, MI, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021 at Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph.

Bob was born on August 2, 1941 in Dell, AR to the late Robert and Elnora (Tharps) Bowman. He was baptized, confessing his faith in Christ at an early age under the late Rev. Raspberry at New Bethel Baptist Church. Robert was a proud 1961 graduate of Benton Harbor HS and a member of the basketball team, earning the nickname “BoHawk”. He was honorably discharged from the United States Air Force in 1965. On March 19, 1966, he married Betty Robinson, the love of his life. Robert had a 30-year career at IBM, and after retiring he returned with his family to serve his hometown community.

Bob lived a purpose driven life and at the center was his family, home, church, and community. He worked hard providing for his family and was a dedicated husband and father, setting examples of leadership and love.

Bob served as a community member in many ways in the Benton Harbor and St. Joe area. He worked tirelessly for the youth in “Dads for Education” and “Parents as Partners” in the schools. He also worked in planning the B.H./S.J. Rotary Track Meet.

Robert was a member of Union Memorial AME Church. He served as a Trustee, a former President of the church Senior Club, and a committed fundraiser in the Men’s Ministry. He was also as a founding member of “The Band of Brothers in Christ”.

Bob had a passion for cooking and sharing this love of food with family and friends. Becoming a member of “The 18 Club” gave him many opportunities to engage in social activities and host community gatherings.

Being a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and Reserves inspired Bob to become involved in local politics; serving as a campaign manager, a member of the Benton Harbor School Board and the Benton Harbor Charter Township Civil Service Board.

On Dec. 1st, 2012, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Iota Iota Omega Chapter selected Bob as “A Man of Excellence” for his dedicated service for providing opportunities for growth and development to the people of the community.

Bob is survived by his wife of almost 55 years, Betty; his children, Monica (John) Pembroke of Madison, WI and Jonathan Bowman of Tampa, FL; grandchild, Jonathan Bowman; sisters, Erma (Bobby) Jordan of Benton Harbor, Margaret Bowman of Los Angeles, CA, Edna Kelly of Benton Harbor, and Shirley (Thomas) Crumble of Benton Harbor; and a brother, Calvin (Theresa) Bowman of Benton Harbor. Bob is preceded in death by his daughter, Lisa Bowman; brothers, Eddie, Willie "Meatball", Thomas "Rudy" and Herman; and a sister, Gwendolyn.

A Celebration of Life Service will take place on Tuesday, March 9 at 11am, with Rev. Minnie Autry officiating, at Starks & Menchinger Funeral Home. Burial will follow at Crystal Springs Cemetery in Benton Harbor. Visitation with the family is on Monday from 5:00-7:00pm at the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to the Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor, Friends wishing to leave the family a message of condolence may do so at You may also view the recorded service at a later time on the funeral home website. In respect of the families wishes, please practice social distancing.