Frank Robert “Coach” Bowers (94) peacefully went to be with the Lord in the late evening hours of Sunday, January 21, 2018. He was preceded in death by his wife of 66 years Josephine Burnham Bowers, his parents Charles Robert and Merle Bair Bowers, and his sister Virginia Bowers Bolye.
Frank was born on June 30, 1923 in Frankfort, Indiana. He faithfully served God and his family for his entire life and will always be remembered for his big smile, booming “gym voice,” and his never-ending willingness to help his friends and family with building projects, auto repairs, and fix-it jobs around the house.
Frank graduated from Washington High School in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1941 and enrolled at the University of Mississippi that fall. In the spring of 1943, Frank enlisted in the United States Navy as a member of the Fighting Sea Bees during World War II. He was promoted to Chief Petty Officer and saw action in Guam, the Philippines and Okinawa. After being discharged from the Navy, Frank returned to the University of Mississippi where he received his undergraduate degree in Health and Physical Education in 1948 and his Master’s degree in Health in 1949. He was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and the Phi Epsilon Kappa honorary fraternity for physical education majors. While at Ole Miss, Frank met the love of his life, Jo Burnham, and they were married on December 27, 1946 at her home in Magee, Mississippi. Frank and Jo moved to Laurel, Mississippi in 1949 where their three boys were born. Frank taught history and coached football and track at Laurel High School. His 1957 track team won the Mississippi High School state championship. In the fall of 1957 they moved to Athens, Georgia where Frank took a professorate at the University of Georgia. He enjoyed a very successful 28-year career at UGA, and in 1983 he was voted Professor of the Year in the College of Education by his peers and students. He devoted his career at UGA to preparing his students for their professions in Health and Physical Education. Frank also served a stint as an assistant coach for the UGA track team and was the Director of Intramural Sports for 15 years.
Frank and Jo were long-time members of First Presbyterian Church in Athens where Frank served as a Deacon and Elder, taught youth and adult Sunday School, and served as Sunday School Superintendent. They were also members of the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Athens, and most recently members at Ashford Memorial Methodist Church in Watkinsville. Frank supported numerous charities including St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the Salvation Army, Little Sisters of the Poor, the National Diabetes Association, the Native American Heritage Association, the Red Cross, and the National World War II Museum.
Frank lived a happy and wonderful life. He enjoyed coaching and watching his boys play sports and was an avid golfer as a member of the Athens Country Club. He won several club tournaments and was proud of the three hole-in-ones he made during his retirement! He became an expert at restoring vintage automobiles and specialized in 1965 Mustangs and classic Thunderbirds. He also enjoyed camping, water skiing, gardening, and watching his beloved Ole Miss Rebels play football. In his later years, he enjoyed the many visits from his family and grandchildren.
Frank is survived by his sons Bob (Nina) Bowers, Charlie (Susan) Bowers, and Jim Bowers, his grandchildren Adrienne (Barry) Kirkland, Audrey (Miles) Starr, Lauren (Kyle) Glass, and Jeff Bowers, and his great grandchildren Macy Margaret and Baxley Kirkland and Roman Starr.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to Ashford Memorial Methodist Church at 15 Main Street, Watkinsville, Georgia. A time of visitation for family and friends will be held on Sunday, January 28 with a drop-in from 3:00 to 5:00 pm at the Ashford Fellowship Hall.