Bowen retiring after 35 years of service

Published 2:29 am Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Staff Writer

WASHINGTON PARK — After 35 years of dedicated service to his community, Washington Park Town Clerk Walter Bowen Jr. is retiring, but he is not saying goodbye just yet.
When he was sworn in as town clerk in July 1975, Bowen said, he was honored to take the reins as the town clerk back then. As a man who served in the Navy when World War II broke out, Bowen said, he felt he could use his skills to help his community.
“I enjoyed it very much,” he said. “I’ve lived here for years and years and years, and I love it.”
“Bo” or “Uncle Bo,” as some people call him, was not only the town’s clerk, but he was also in charge of Washington Park’s financial records. He also supervised work crews, served as property-records keeper, served as the town’s zoning officer and assisted as the town’s personnel administrator.
“I’ve had several compliments through the years, and that’s what makes me feel good and know I did a good job,” Bowen said. “(Washington Park) was established in 1923, and the people of (Washington Park) didn’t want to pay the City of Washington taxes. Now, there are people here that want different things.
“The main thing is, I love this park and I want it known. I really do love it here.”
In the 35 years Bowen has served as town clerk, Bowen has seen a lot happen in that time. Everything from churches, housing developments and so forth that have wanted to come to Washington Park and set up. Because Washington Park is small, he said, town officials did not want to clutter the area, but instead wanted to keep things simple.
“And so far, everything’s worked out,” he said.
Bowen said the official population of Washington Park is 410 people, which is just over the official population of Bath.
Bowen’s replacement, Dennie Dale, said there are still things he will be helping her with before he is fully retired from the position.
Dale said that Bowen will be her mentor during the next year as she learns all the “ins” and “outs” of the position, with Bowen serving as an advisor concerning the duties and responsibilities of the town clerk.
Dale said the love Bowen has for Washington Park shows in his dedicated service and the work he has done over the past 35 years. She said the more than 40 elected officials he has worked for in those 35 years have grown to love, admire and respect him.
“One thing is, all the children here in Washington Park always ask him if they can play in his park,” Dale said, referring to the playground directly across the street from Bowen’s house. “So, he knows everyone, and we just love him.”
Dale, a longtime Washington Park resident, said that about a month ago the town’s Board of Commissioners advertised for someone to become the new town clerk.
“They received many solid job applications from as far away as Ohio,” Bowen said. “So, that just goes to show how much of a great place this is.”
The board narrowed the applicants down to a short list before unanimously selecting Dale to replace Bowen.
Bowen remains on salary until the end of the month, before becoming an hourly employee during the next year.