Donald Leon Bowman, 77, died Wednesday, March 24, 2021, at home in Centralia, Wash., from complications related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; also known as Lou Gehrig's disease). Leon was born Oct. 1, 1943, to Albert S. and Freeda G. (Young) Bowman in Amarillo, Texas. He was raised primarily in Vici, Okla.
Leon was a business owner, community activist, and philanthropist. In 1962, he married Rose Anna Isbell in Vici. They moved to Washington in 1964, settling in Lewis County one year later, where they raised their three children. In 1968, Leon purchased Chehalis Auto Repair & Electric, an auto repair facility in Chehalis, Wash. In 1974, he moved the business to Centralia. He built a new building on the site and has operated there since. It was later renamed to Kresky Auto Repair & Electric (KARE). He owned and operated the business until his death.
Leon led many educational and promotional efforts in support of the automotive service industry locally and statewide. Early in his business career, he hosted workshops for community members to learn simple automotive repairs and fixes. Leon worked closely with the local school districts and Centralia College to develop vocational education programs. He also served as the statewide president for the Washington Automotive Wholesalers Association and the Automotive Service Association of Washington during his career.
As a community activist, Leon became a leader in many local organizations. He served on the chamber merger committee in 1985, to study combining the then-separate Centralia and Chehalis Chambers of Commerce. The Chambers merged following the recommendation of the committee. Leon served as the president of the newly combined chamber in 1989. He was an early board member of the Lewis County Veterans Memorial Museum. Leon served on the board during the planning and construction of the current facility in Chehalis.
Leon and Rose were very active in Rotary International. Leon and Rose saw Rotary as a way to give back to the community and the world. He joined the Twin Cities Rotary Club in 1989, serving as its president in 2007 to 2008. He later served as an assistant district governor. In the local community, he led many Rotary service projects such as building flower boxes for the Southwest Washington Fairground after the 2007 flood (and rebuilding them in 2018), building a skateboard park in Napavine, and rehabilitating local parks and community areas.
He and Rose were on the founding committee for the Lewis County Rotary Foundation’s Tri-Club Auction. The auction has raised money for many local charities and community organizations including: Pope’s Kid’s Place, the Lewis County Veterans Memorial Museum, youth football, Centralia College and more. More recently, he coordinated Rotary’s partnership with Love Inc. and local churches to build ramps for those in need of accessible entrances into their homes.
Rose and Leon participated in international Rotary service projects including vaccinating children against Polio in India, as well as fundraising and visiting water and educational projects supported by Rotary in Malawi, Africa, and villages in Mexico. He served two terms on the Centralia City Council. As a philanthropist, Leon contributed to many local charities and causes, notably the Centralia College Foundation and the Rotary International Foundation. He and Rose were co-founders of Centralia’s annual Summerfest celebration and active in many other community events.
Leon is survived by daughter, Stephanie and her husband, Gary Marcum of Burien, Wash.; sons, Steve Bowman of Spokane and Stan Bowman of Chehalis, Wash.; grandchildren, Bennett Black of Virginia, Olivia Black of Texas, and Carter and Georgia Bowman of Chehalis.
He was preceded in death by his beloved Rose, wife of 54 years; infant son, Rodney; brother, Paul; and sisters, Avis, Wanda, and Darlene.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Providence Sound HomeCare & Hospice, in particular Laurel Fisher and the staff of Centralia Providence Hospital for their care and kindness. Leon requested donations be sent to support one of his and Rose’s passions to fulfill the vision of Rotary International, which Leon and Rose lived and took to heart, “Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change — across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.” Contributions in Leon’s name can be sent to: The Rotary Foundation, c/o Twin Cities Rotary, P.O. Box 6, Chehalis, WA 98532.