By Fran Patrick
A golf lover with an advocate’s heart, Bill Bowser’s memory continues to live on through Legacy donation.
It’s funny the little things we remember about a person. As time passes it can be the smallest of things that triggers a memory. For me, the yellow bucket my grandmother used in her composting efforts forever makes me chuckle. As a child, it all seemed “yucky,” but, as an adult, each time I go to the recycling trash can, I am reminded of her determination, her sense of duty to do her part — her legacy. As a Land Army girl in World War II, this was the beat of my grandparents’ drum in every aspect of life. But the yellow bucket never fails to conjure the memory paired with the sweet reminder to do my part.
There are people who come into our lives that are temporary, part of a season. Others leave an indelible mark on our lives. No matter the length of their stay in our world, we are made up of the memories of every person we have ever met. I think that this is a beautiful way to look at ourselves — a mass of memories created by others who have impacted us.
A Mason at Heart
William “Bill” J. Bowser (1938-2020) is one such individual who has left a lasting mark on the Masonic Home of Missouri, not only on those who had the honor of working with him, but the organization as a whole. His passion for the Masonic Home was inspiring.
Serving on the Masonic Home Board of Directors from 2012-2016, Bill cared deeply about what the Masonic Home accomplished. He was a strong leader, not afraid to take the path that others were fearful to, if it meant doing the right thing. And, as with any great leader, he led by backing his words with action. He is remembered fondly for being the one that “highly encouraged” board members about the importance of donating to the Masonic Home. He is remembered for his presence at Truman Club Dinners, where he and Phyllis, his beloved late wife, were recognized in 2018 at the Jacob Lampert Society level. And, today, they are remembered for their actions put in place by their legacy giving with an estate gift. The English preacher, Charles Spurgeon, once wrote, “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you, and were helped by you, will remember you when the forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on their hearts, not on marble.” Bill and Phyllis absolutely carved their names on the hearts of those they met — they were the people who uplifted others.
For the Love of Golf
As another golf tournament is upon us, for many at the Masonic Home, it triggers their own “yellow bucket” moment. Of Bill Bowser in particular, we share a small chuckle as the memory of Bill refusing to come off the golf course in 90+ degree heat crosses our minds. Or his desire to ensure he always won the Hooters silent auction item (Wing Party for 10!) for his team — over 15 years, that is a lot of wings!!
Jackie Walters, Sr. Engagement & Major Gifts Officer, reflects, “He was smiling when he arrived for the tournament and smiling when he left for the day.” Each of these memories evokes a warm feeling in our hearts, a moment to think beyond the golf course and remember the man.
“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains, and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike
Forever in our Hearts
In our new normal, without those we love around us, we often ask the question… I wonder what they would have thought of this? What would Bill and Phyllis think of where we are today?
Jodi Blake, Director of Finance & Development, believes “Bill would love that we helped so many people this past fiscal year, the most ever. I think he would love our plans to get the word out more about all the amazing things the Masonic Home does. He was a great advocate of the Masonic Home. He would have loved to be an Ambassador.”
Bill and Phyllis’ commitment to Masonry, and affiliation with Masonic organizations, was a part of their lives that kept them highly active. It is not surprising that the depths of their charitable nature has continued as part of their legacy.
A Lasting Memory
It can be a daunting topic… Legacy. Many think it is those that have vast incomes, estates, and unlimited resources that are poised to leave financial gifts. But giving does not require a large financial sum.
Legacy giving requires a thoughtful intention to make a difference, to encourage and leave pathways for others to follow for generations to come. Now, nearly five years since his passing, Bill’s Masonic legacy is still in full swing. His “highly encouraged” support of the golf tournament is reflected in the continued board sponsorship of the newly named Bill Bowser Memorial Drink Cart.
This seemingly, to some, small thing is a testament to how devoted he was to making each tournament a success (and a good time!) and a nod to the legacy he leaves behind. Bowser’s teams are still in play, and most importantly, the passion that Bill had for the Masonic Home’s mission is being inspired by his and Phyllis’ legacy. He lived his life with intention. He was determined to enjoy life, support those less fortunate, and to leave the world a better place —and it should be said that he achieved all three of these beautifully.