C. Ray  Bowman

C. Ray Bowman

1926 - 2024

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C. Ray

Obituary of C. Ray Bowman

Carl Ray Bowman was born on October 26, 1926 in Eureka, California to Professor Carl A. Bowman and Blanche M. Sappenfield Bowman. He entered eternity peacefully on March 21, 2024.

The life he lived, following his parents’ divorce, was with his mother and grandparents in and around Abilene, KS. Ray’s grandfather, Daniel Riley Sappenfield pastored in the United Brethren Church of Christ. Ray attended a different Kansas school every year due to his mother’s traveling teaching career. He spent summers during high school working on a farm in Abilene. Before his senior year, they moved to Bethany, Oklahoma where he graduated from Bethany High School in 1944. Many of his classmates were life-long friends.

After high school he enrolled in Bethany Peniel College (now Southern Nazarene University) in Bethany, Oklahoma for a semester before being inducted into the US Navy. During his Navy time in California, he was reunited with his father. However, his military career was shortened when WWII ended, and he was discharged. Ray entered Kansas State University on the G.I Bill, the alma mater of his mother, to pursue a degree in architecture. After graduation in 1949, he taught Architectural Design as a graduate assistant and completed a master’s degree in 1955.

During his architectural apprenticeship in Kansas City, Ray met Sally Jones (daughter of C. Hartley and Elizabeth) at Kansas City First Nazarene Church. After a whirlwind romance, they were married on Nov. 22, 1951. Ray had dedicated his life to the Lord Jesus Christ a year earlier at the same altar.

Following his apprenticeship, Ray was hired to teach in the Architectural Department at Kansas University, and they moved to Lawrence where daughter Cindy was born in 1952. Ray was offered a teaching position at Bethany Peniel College (Bethany, Oklahoma). He began teaching art and pre-engineering in 1954. Two sons were born to the family, Daniel Riley in 1955 and David Ray in 1959. In 1957, Ray started an architectural/engineering firm with Charles Nicek. They built the practice into one of the most recognized companies in the Oklahoma City area.

The Bowman-Nick frim began designing churches, schools, and hospitals. But they were most known for innovative and beautiful church design. His use and love of a particular shade of blue led to his “title” of Dr. Blue and recognition of “Bowman Blue” in his buildings. Over the years, Ray’s firm designed many of the Church of the Nazarene’s most iconic buildings, including Bethany First, Denver First, Nampa First, Kansas City First, College Church Olathe (first two buildings). They were also commissioned to design the master plan and first campus buildings for MidAmerica Nazarene College (University) Olathe, Kansas, and Mt. Vernon Nazarene College (University) Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Many buildings on Southern Nazarene’s campus were the result of their design concepts. Numerous school and medical facilities were also part of their body of work. Ray was also president of the Association of Nazarene Building Professionals.

Ray and family were significant members of the Bethany, OK community – school board member, designer of the City Seal, church board member, Sunday School teacher, and friend to many. He was known around town for his excellent imitation of Abraham Lincoln.

In 1977, Ray, Sally and son David moved to Nampa, Idaho where Ray joined a Boise architectural firm. During their years in Idaho, they continued hobbies of sailing/hiking in the summer and snow skiing in the winter. Idaho was the destination for many fun family vacations.

In 1980, Ray felt the Holy Spirit impressing him to leave the architectural practice and begin a church growth ministry. They were obedient and trusted God to provide work and income. His passion for beauty and design was channeled into ministry rather than institutional buildings. Together, Ray and Sally traveled around the United States and Canada assisting more than 150 churches of all denominations in healthy church growth. During this time, a new organization was born, Living Stones. Living Stones became a group of pastors and professionals, dedicated to church growth and provisional living. Ray also wrote three books with Eddy Hall, When Not to Build When Not to Borrow and More with Less Church (Baker Book House). The books were instrumental in extending their ministry.

1992 brought a move to Colorado to be near and more engaged with their son’s families in the Denver area. This move provided many opportunities for activities with grandchildren and further cemented their love to the mountains.

Ray retired for the consulting ministry in 2003. In 2004, they moved to Olathe, Kansas into an addition to their daughter and son-in-law’s home, designed by Ray. During these retirement years, Ray continued in the multitude of scenes from Kansas City, Oklahoma, Idaho, Colorado, and Kansas. He also taught an adult art class for MidAmerica Nazarene University. In 2011, the University conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. They were active in College Church of the Nazarene where Sally taught a women’s Bible study group and knitted in the Prayer Shawl Ministry. Olathe became the site of many family and friend gathering over the years.

As a father, Dr. Ray was generous and aways willing to help with significant events and advice. His goal was that everyone inter a relationship with Jesus. In his later years, he wrote a small, self-published book, Enjoy Being Old? This book became a hit with many people and church groups with its creative and practical approach to aging and ultimate death. This quote reflects Ray’s trust in Jesus:

The CLOSER makes the difference between winning or losing in a baseball game. To win the game of life, I need a proven Closer. C is for Christ Jesus, The Closer who is ready to make sure I win the game.  Who is your Closer?

Sally passed to heaven in 2021 during their 70th year of marriage from COVID. After some time in Olathe, Ray moved to Melbourne, FL with son Dan and eventually to assisted living. His mobility was limited but he enjoyed putting together puzzles, beating his children and grandchildren in the marble game and receiving cards/visits from friends and family. It was at this last residence where he said, “goodbye until that morning in the sweet by and by.”

Ray (Gdad) is survived by daughter Cynthia Lyn “Cindy” (Steve) Peterson, grandchildren Daniel Scott (Sarah), Andrea Denise (Allen) Russell, Robert David (Stasia); son Daniel Riley (Jy) Bowman, grandson Skyler Benjamin; son David Ray (Cheryl) Bowman, grandchildren Eryn Jayne, Riley David (Kris), Stefan Marc (Laci). Also surviving are brothers-in-law David (Jean) Jones, Lloyd Taylor, and sister-in-law Phyllis (Rand) Michael. There are many loving great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and friends who carry the memories of their relationship with Gdad, Uncle and friend Ray Bowman.

Memorial gifts may be made in Ray’s name to any church/charity of your choice. Service plans are pending.