Vern Thomas Bowen - Brunswick, Georgia

July 11, 1930 - Jan. 20, 2024


Vern Thomas Bowen, age 93, passed away Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, ,under the loving care of the staff at Hospice of the Golden Isles Center in Brunswick, Georgia.
Vern was born on July 11, 1930, to Frank and Tessie (Ashauer) Bowen in Flandreau, South Dakota. He received his early education at Bell Country School in Moody County and continued his education through his sophomore year at Egan High School. He served as President of his freshman class. He was very proud to receive his high school equivalency (GED) in the Navy in 1951. From 1947-1950, Vern was employed by his father as a farm hand. He worked on a 240-acre farm 6 1/2 miles west of Flandreau, planting and harvesting crops and attending to 60 head of cattle.
In January of 1951 Vern left home to join the US Navy. He finished basic training at Great Lakes, Illinois, and was then assigned to the USS Bennington (CVA-20). Vern was awarded a “Letter of Commendation” from the Secretary of the Navy for his courageous conduct when the vessel experienced a series of violent explosions while conducting air operations in May of 1954. With fires, dense smoke, and intense heat spreading throughout the forward section of the ship and causing death or injury to 220 officers and men, Vern fought his way into the devastated area and assisted in removing casualties. Forced to withdraw because of noxious fumes, Vern, donning an oxygen mask, returned to continue the rescue operation.
After his discharge in 1954 from the Navy, Vern moved to Memphis, Tennessee to join his brother, Kenneth, in the automobile business. In 1956, Vern and Kenny were asked to join the Hull-Dobbs Company in Puerto Rico. It was to become the largest Ford dealership in the Caribbean. Vern started out as a sales manager, rising to general manager, vice-president and then president in 1973. In 1975, Vern left the Island to become a partner with Colonial Ford, Inc. in Brunswick, Georgia.
Following his retirement from the automobile business, Vern moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia. He then became employed, for 13 years, as a role player for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, GA. FLETC serves as an interagency law enforcement training body for 105 US government federal law enforcement agencies. Vern helped in training US Marshals, the Secret Service and FBI agents.
Vern was a high-energy person who could not sit still for very long. He was an avid golfer, disciplined runner, great tennis player, and even better pickleball player. Vern loved Jazz music, especially Charlie Parker. He was a kind, caring, positive thinking, and independent (with a capital “I” independent) individual. He loved visiting family back home. And, they in return looked forward to his every visit. Vern also had a wealth of friends whom he loved dearly.
Vern, who was everyone’s Favorite Uncle, is survived by his nieces; Sharon (Alvin) Gullickson, Colman, SD, Susan (Jim) Thompson, Colman, SD, Barb Ullom, Plano, TX, Vicky (Jim) Hudecek, Sioux Falls, SD, Gayle (Kevin) Merritt, Fresno, CA, Kristen (Brion) Paulson, Renner, SD, nephews; David (Kris) Johnson, Flandreau, SD, Gary Bowen, Sioux Falls, SD, and Douglas (Julie) Bowen, Brant Lake, SD; and 25 great nieces and great nephews.
Vern was preceded in death by his brothers, John and Kenneth, his sister, Delores, his parents, nephews, Ricky Bowen, Lance Bowen and Troy Johnson and niece, Joan Rovig.
Vern was a member of St. Williams Catholic Church in St. Simons Island. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 9, at St. Williams Catholic Church with inurnment of ashes immediately following in the church’s columbarium.
Live streaming will be available on the church’s YouTube page under live.