A longtime Peninsula resident who dedicated nearly 20 years to Girl Guides is being remembered as a woman who had a “life-changing” impact on thousands of young girls.
An estimated 350 people turned out to the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club Saturday to celebrate the life of Pat Bowman, who died Dec. 24, just days after an unexpected diagnosis of lung cancer. She was 60.
“She was an awesome, awesome lady, an awesome Guider,” friend Sherry Gilroy told Peace Arch News Monday.
“She touched an awful lot of people.”
Bowman got involved with Guiding in 1988, helping out with her daughter’s Brownies group, and was “recruited” soon after to lead the First Semiahmoo Guides.
For 10 years, Bowman dedicated countless hours to the young girls under her wing, organizing everything from overnight camping trips to craft activities and community-service outings – always with an aim to guiding them towards becoming independent, confident and compassionate women.
Sue Baxter, who started with Guides at the same time as Bowman, described the path as one Bowman was meant to follow.
“It was all for the girls and the fun,” said Baxter. “It was never, ever a chore.
“Her calling was to help girls become confident young women. She was very strong and she showed that to the girls.
“She was a beautiful person and she’ll be sorely missed by everybody.”
Gilroy recalled one camping trip in which Bowman had promised to teach her Guides how to cook bacon and eggs over the fire in a paper bag, without burning the bag. When rain dominated the night, she spent hours on her hands and knees keeping the fire going just enough to ensure each girl got the experience.
“Just the type of person that Pat was,” Gilroy said.
In a June 1998 interview, Bowman told PAN that being involved with Guides was as much of a learning and beneficial experience for her as it was for her young charges.
“For the girls, what they get out of it, you get, too,” she said.
Bowman also lauded the friendships she gained through the organization.
After retiring as a leader, Bowman – a mother of five and grandmother to seven, with the eighth due in March – continued with the organization as a camp adviser, then international adviser and then treasurer for nearly another decade.
Daughter Jessika Houston said Saturday’s turnout took the family by surprise – they’d been expecting around 200 people. Attendees travelled from as far away as Calgary and Port McNeil to pay tribute.
“She made such an impact on so many people’s lives and even though she’s not here anymore, she’ll still be able to do that.”
Houston said her mom lived most of her life in White Rock, in a house at the bottom of Pacific Avenue – one that was routinely hit by cars gone astray – and grew up in the family’s carnival business.
She married her high school sweetheart, Chris Bowman, and ran her own house-cleaning business, The Cleaning Solution, for 25 years, building friendships with many of her clients along the way. Her oldest client, now 94 years old, attended the service, Houston said, and has become part of the whole family.
Houston said her mom always emphasized to the people in her life the need to be prepared, and to give back, the latter because at some point in life, they, too, would need someone to lean on.
Houston said that while it was difficult to lose her mom so quickly – “it would have been nicer to have a bit more time to say goodbye” – the family takes some comfort in the fact she didn’t spend months in pain.
Even in her last few weeks, her mom continued to put others first, Houston added – ensuring that seven shoe boxes she’d prepared for less-fortunate kids overseas were shipped in time for Christmas and purchasing special gifts for each of her kids and husband to remind them “that she will now be a part of the magic of Christmas.”
“She really was a special lady.”