670th BS Patch

416th Bombardment Group (L)

Rev. Robert Stanley "Bob" Bower

Capt., Pilot

September 10, 1920 - September 11, 2009

670th Bombardment Squadron (L)


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Robert Stanley Bower, the pastor of Harundale Presbyterian Church for more than three decades who enjoyed flying Piper Cubs, died of heart failure Sept. 11 at the Glen Burnie Rehabilitation Center. He was 89.

Mr. Bower, the son of Irish immigrant parents, was born and raised in Niles, Ohio. After graduating from Niles High School in 1939, he enrolled, with the financial backing of his Sunday school teacher, at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa.

He dropped out of college and enlisted in the Army Air Forces during World War II. He learned to fly from a student of the Wright brothers, family members said.

Assigned to the 9th Air Force in Europe, Mr. Bower flew Douglas Invader A-26 and Mitchell B-25 bombers.

Mr. Bower flew 37 combat missions, compiling 135 combat hours over France and Germany. He attained the rank of lieutenant, and his decorations included the Bronze Star Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters.

After the war, he returned to Westminster College, where he earned his bachelor's degree, and in 1949 he earned a divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary.

He was ordained by the Baltimore Presbytery in 1949 and was appointed associate pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Allentown, Pa., a position he held until being named pastor of Harundale in 1954.

"He served the church faithfully for 32 years as full pastor during substantial growth, financial struggle and tragic structural fires while effectively guiding its evolution into a strong church," said a son, David Alan Bower of Chesapeake, Va.

At the time of Mr. Bower's retirement on Dec. 31, 1985, he had built the church's congregation to more than 800 members.

"Bob built this church into a huge family, and they really love one another," said current pastor, the Rev. Tracy K. Davenport. "When I came here two years ago, he and his wife were so supportive and encouraging."

She credited Mr. Bower's "marvelous sense of humor" and "outgoing personality" as assets that "helped him build the church's congregation."

Even though he had retired, he still attended and remained active in the church.

"He'd come back and conduct funerals for longtime members," Ms. Davenport said.

Mr. Bower's pastoral interests included youth ministry and interdenominational worship services.

Lois McCarren, a Glen Burnie resident, has been a member for 43 years.

"He was terrific. If you had a problem, he'd be at your house right away. He was a very caring and down-to-earth person," Mrs. McCarren said.

She admired Mr. Bowen's sermons and his verbal delivery.

"He could connect to you. When he was giving a sermon, you felt he was talking directly to you," she said. "I thought after he retired, we'd never see him again. But he never dropped us and remained active in our church."

Mr. Bower had served on the hospital ship Hope as a volunteer pastor. He was a member of the founding board of Anne Arundel Community College.

He also had been a guest minister at Shawnee Presbyterian Church in Shawnee-on-the-Delaware, Pa., where he had come to be friends with Fred Waring, the 1920s and 1930s radio and singing star, who developed a resort there.

Mr. Bower, who lived on Phelps Avenue in Glen Burnie for 55 years, continued his interest in flying.

"He kept his pilot's license and was still flying Piper Cubs until five years ago, and had flown ... gliders until 1999," his son said.

Mr. Bower was an avid golfer, scuba diver and world traveler. He also liked playing jazz piano and Irish music.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Oct. 4 at his church, 1020 Eastway, Glen Burnie.

Also surviving are his wife of 56 years, the former Marilyn Marie Michael; two other sons, Jonathan K. Bower of Glen Burnie and Robert L. Bower of Shawnee, Pa.; a sister, Elizabeth L. Linsley of Miami; and 11 grandchildren.

By Frederick N. Rasmussen
September 20, 2009

BALTIMORE SUN On-line Obituary (PDF)

Robert S. Bower

Reverend Robert Stanley "Bob" Bower, 89, Pastor Emeritus of Harundale Presbyterian Church, died Sept. 11 following heart complications and strokes.

He was born Sept. 10, 1920, in Niles, Ohio to Irish immigrants, Stanley and Sarah Bower, six months after their arrival through Ellis Island. Bob graduated from McKinley High School in Niles, Ohio in 1939.

With financial backing from his Sunday school teacher, he attended Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa., with an aim to enter into a Presbyterian Seminary. His education was interrupted by WWII when he enlisted in the Army Air Force. While he initially learned to fly from a student of the Wright Brothers, in the service he piloted fast attack Douglas Invader A-26 bombers on 37 missions with 135 combat hours over France and Germany during the European Theatre of Operations in the 9th Air Force. Bob received the Bronze Star Air Medal with Six Oak Clusters, a European, African and Middle Eastern (EAME) Theater Ribbon with Three Battle Stars and an EAME Service Award as a First Lieutenant.

Immediately following WWII he returned to Westminster College, received his B.A. and then realized one of his early dreams when he was accepted into Princeton Seminary, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Divinity in 1949.

He was ordained into the Baltimore Presbytery in March 15, 1949. He continued a life of education and learning throughout his career and was a published author. During a four-year position as Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Allentown, Pa., he met Marilyn Marie Michael. They married in June of 1953.

He entered his first and only full pastorate for Harundale Presbyterian Church, Jan. 1, 1954. He welcomed the early opportunities to pastor with the help of the then retired Dr. Henry S. Brown, deceased, and former Vice-President of Princeton Seminary. He served the church faithfully for more than 32 years as full pastor during substantial growth, financial struggle and tragic structural fires while effectively guiding its evolution into a strong church in the community with a congregation of more than 800 at the time of his retirement Dec. 31, 1985.

He served on many community organizations and volunteered as pastor on the U.S. Hope medical ship for four months. He served on the founding Board of Directors for Anne Arundel Community College, the YMCA, and was influential in both interdenominational worship efforts and many youth ministry programs. He valued travel abroad visiting every state in the U.S. and 75 countries; many of which he visited more than once.

He was preceded in death by brother, Hugh Thomas Bower.

Survivors include his wife of 56 years, the former Marilyn Marie Michael; sons, Robert Lee, Jonathan Kirk and David Alan; 11 grandchildren; and sister, Elizabeth Lois Linsley.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Harundale Presbyterian Church. The service will be followed by time together in the Fellowship Hall. All are welcome to attend.

Memorials can be sent to the Harundale Presbyterian Church Pastoral Discretion Fund 1020 Eastway, Glen Burnie, MD 21060.

Published in The Capital on Sept. 19, 2009

The Capital / legacy.com On-line Obituary (PDF)

See also:
Lt. Robert S. Bower Photo and Documents Collection

Lt. Robert S. Bower Combat Journal Transcription, Scanned Images PDF file

"Goin' Home" courtesy of the U.S. Air Force Band