Raymond T. Bowman, 105, former steward at exclusive golf club

Raymond T. Bowman
Raymond T. Bowman
Posted: April 11, 2014

Raymond T. Bowman, 105, of Wynnewood, a businessman and former steward at an exclusive golf club, died Tuesday, April 1, of heart failure.

Mr. Bowman, the grandson of a slave, was a steward and waiter at Pine Valley, a club 20 miles southeast of Philadelphia in Camden County that caters to the famous.

Mr. Bowman began working there in the 1920s, and often was on duty 18 hours a day, six days a week, he told reporter Frank Fitzpatrick in a 2013 Inquirer article.

"It was all private," Mr. Bowman said. "I took care of everything I'd see, and some things I didn't see."

The courteous and discreet Mr. Bowman rubbed elbows with such luminaries as President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, and the boxer Gene Tunney. But it made for a lonely life; there were long stretches when he didn't see his family, which lived in West Philadelphia, he told Fitzpatrick.

To make up for the absence, he called home twice a day and made friends among his fellow Masons.

Mr. Bowman retired in the 1950s after three decades of service at Pine Valley and started his own catering business based on chicken salad and a family recipe for snapper soup. He served for a time as a nonteaching assistant at Overbrook High School, where he was affectionately known as "Bull Dog Bowman."

Since 2009, when he broke a leg, he had been living at Saunders House, a nursing facility in Wynnewood. He looked forward to Wednesdays, when pupils from Friends' Central School would visit. Born in Middletown, Pa., Mr. Bowman grew up in South Philadelphia and attended Central High School. He was married to Olivia Thornton. After she died, Mr. Bowman married Alice Taylor in 1943. She died in 1999.

He is survived by a son, Donald; a daughter, Alice Bowman-Cropper; four grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and two nieces. A son, Raymond Jr., died earlier.

Funeral services were Wednesday, April 9.

bcook@phillynews.com

610-313-8102

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