Coral Gables educator, George Bowker, was an educator and leader who had a positive impact on the people whose lives he touched and, in particular, the staff and students at Coral Gables Elementary where he served as principal for two decades, from 1971-1991. Interestingly enough, in 1989, before he retired, the school began a history of receiving the Golden School Award for Volunteerism, which speak volumes for his influence. His career paths certainly speak to a man of great character and integrity.
George Bowker, was born on October 5, 1927, in Jersey City, New Jersey. After graduating from high school at 17, he joined the Navy during World War II. A patriot to the core, Bowker served his country once again as a member of the US Air Force during the Korean War and the Lebanon Crisis. Between his stints in the military, he entered NYU where he earned a BS in Education as well as a Master’s Degree, served as a New York State Trooper, and taught high school in New York at Haverstraw High School where he also coached football.
He married his first wife, Rita, in 1959, and settled with their daughter, Susan, in North Miami where he taught elementary school at Crestview and Sabal Palm before becoming a reading specialist. He earned certification in Administration and Supervision and accepted his first job as principal at Allapattah Elementary which he described as a “school with 1,800 kids and 22 portables”. So, that was certainly a challenge.
With training on the innovation open model concept, he opened that program at Kelsey L. Pharr Elementary. It was there he met and married his second wife, Kathleen in 1978. A few years later he moved on to Coral Gables for the rest of his career.
After retiring, he continued to be very active running 10-K races, playing golf, and even discovered a new pastime, oil painting. During their long marriage, he and Kathleen enjoyed traveling to National Parks, and even traveled to Alaska, Canada, Europe and, most recently, China.
George passed away on April 14th, 2014, in his Coral Gables home . He is survived by his wife Kathleen, daughter Susan (Gary) and grandsons Stephen (Claudia) and Jonathan and the light of his life, great-granddaughter Sydney, age 2.
A memorial service will be held on April 25, 2014 at 11:00 am at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, 1121 Andalusia Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134, with a reception immediately following the service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association .