To call Bob Bowman a character might not be doing him justice. He was more than that, at least to those of us who knew him.
Bob was a friend, and you know, now that I think of it after typing those six letters together, friend might not be fair either.
He was truly one of a kind.
Bob passed away Thursday in the Columbus area. Along the way in his career in the newspaper industry were stops at the News Journal and Xenia Daily Gazette. He finished his newspaper career as a stringer for the News Journal sports department.
Like many industries, newspapers have changed dramatically over the years since I was fortunate enough to sit in the sports editor’s seat beginning in 1987.
Many people — far too many to count, whether they be co-workers, coaches, players or just fans — have crossed my path.
None left an impression on me or so many others as Bob Bowman.
If you didn’t know Bob, then you likely never saw him. Because if Bob saw you, he was always quick to extend a smile, a greeting and find out who you were.
Of course, he had a story or two of his own to share, especially when he came to the News Journal offices on South Street downtown. He would travel through each department, making sure to say something quirky to everyone, leaving them more often than not with a chuckle in their heart.
Normally, when he entered the newsroom, things pretty much came to a halt. Especially in the early days, young ears hung on every word Bob uttered. When he was done, which sometimes was an abrupt ending, he would simply say “carry on” and leave the room.
“I always enjoyed seeing him stop by my desk. He was hilarious,” said Alison Wahsum, a former News Journal employee, via a Facebook post.
When Bob ended his days as a stringer with me, it was near the end of a time when Friday nights were legendary in the newspaper industry, especially for the papers that covered high school football and basketball.
Back in the day on those Friday nights, the reporters would return to the office after their games and put together their stories that night. Pizza was many times involved. Nowadays, everything is handled electronically and I’m the only one in the newsroom after the games.
It simply isn’t the same.
It’s not as good. Not even close.
And that’s a shame.
“(Bob) was always good for a laugh or two on Friday nights in the old WNJ building,” said stringer Bill Liermann via Facebook.
Yep, until you were able to sit through a Friday night in a newsroom, it’s a little hard to explain what those nights meant to us in the business. Everybody was so jacked up after racing to get their story done by deadline that the energy was a high all by itself.
They were therapeutic.
“Whether he was telling stories about his battles with “mumbles” or recalling the night of the Xenia tornado, you always left any conversation with Bob with a smile on your face,” said Matt Sexton via Facebook.
Matt was one of those young stringers who entered our business to the many Bowman-isms Bob was known to offer to anyone who would listen.
“He was a good man and a mentor to many of us who worked inside the old News Journal building,” said Sexton. “There will never be another like you.”
Said Beth Simonson Tackett, another former WNJ employee, on Facebook, “He was such a nice man. Bob, the man, the myth, the legend will be greatly missed.”
Carry on, Bob. Carry on.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports