William Henry Bowen

February 8, 1920 ~ June 12, 2020 (age 100)



Passed away June 12, 2020 at the age of 100.

Born at home in Akron, Ohio February 8, 1920 at 620 Crozier Street.  Married with three sons.  Served proudly in World War II in the service of the United States Merchant Marine.

Bill was born, the last of 14 children to Charles Russell and Mary Pauline (Jones) Bowen and preceded in death by all. He grew up in Ohio until he was 10 years old moving with his family to Southern California in 1930 where he continued his schooling in Los Angeles attending Jordon High School. 

He married Eva Carse in 1941 and they had one son, William L. 

He joined and served with the U.S. Merchant Marine during WWII.  He received training in Catalina Island, achieving the position of Boatswain, and steered the Liberty Ship into the war zone to deliver needed supplies from Pt. Hueneme, California to New Guinea and other locations in and around the South Pacific.

Bill and Eva divorced in 1943 and went their separate ways. 

Later, working at the Terminal Island Shipyards, he met and married Lia Brighenti, the love of his life in 1944.  Together they had two sons, Robert and Jeffrey. 

Bill had an entrepreneurial spirit and established ownership of two filling stations, selling them later on to go into the after-the-war booming construction trade.  Eventually he became owner/partner of his own flooring company.  The “boom” ending, Bill went to work for the Santa Ana College in Orange County in their Facilities Department keeping the college in good repair for the next 15 years. 

His three boys long gone from the nest, Bill and his wife Lia retired to Arroyo Grande in 1984.  They purchased a motor home and joined the Space Bugs RV Club, enjoying the traveling and socializing with other members and friends.  Bill and Lia were also members of the Santa Maria Elks Lodge #1538.

Bill and Lia celebrated both 50 (1994) and 60 (2004) year wedding anniversaries with family and friends at the Historic Santa Maria Inn.  Bill lost his loving wife, Lia, in 2006.

Shortly after his loss, Bill studied and converted to Catholicism, Lia’s lifelong religion and now his choice.        

Living alone now, Bill kept busy with the Elks and helped to establish a US Merchant Marine Chapter in Santa Maria.  He was also recognized by the US Congress for his contribution to the Veteran’s History Project of 2009 sharing his wartime experiences.

Bill celebrated his 90th Birthday and partied with many family members and friends at the Queen Mary in Long Beach in February 2010. 

Bill also kept busy as a volunteer to the Country Oaks Care Center in Santa Maria, sharing his smile and positive attitude with the patients and staff there since 2006.  Upon suffering a health issue in 2015, he became a patient there himself while still maintaining that positive attitude and smile.  He celebrated his 100th Birthday on February 8th of this year with many family, friends and staff at the care center.  Bill was recognized by the California National Guard with a Military Proclamation for his service in the US Merchant Marine.  He was also honored by the attendance of several Mid-Coast Veterans Alliance members as well as music and song. 

Bill leaves behind his three sons and daughters-in-law; William and Geraldine of Thousand Oaks; Robert and Cynthia of Kingman, Arizona; Jeffrey and Debra of Arroyo Grande.

Five grandchildren; Leslie, Tyler, Tiffany, Tammy and Rachael.  Two step-grandchildren; Edward and Shawna. 

Eleven great grandchildren, six step great grandchildren and two step great great grandchildren

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