The common thread woven through Linda Bowden’s life was generosity: some of the stitches sewn in plain view and others hidden in seams—all of them designed to strengthen the community.
Bowden, 76, died May 13, just months before the opening of the Bowden event center in Keller.
“This is Linda Bowden’s vision because Keller didn’t have a community center,” said her good friend Debbie Reynolds. “The thing that upsets me most is she didn’t get to see the finished building.”
Services for Linda Bowden will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, at Keller United Methodist Church, 1025 Johnson Road, Keller.
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Scheduled to open in late summer, The Bowden Events and Weddings on Keller Parkway will be a place for local charities and schools to hold functions and a close-to-home wedding venue.
All profits will go to the Greater Keller Women’s Club Foundation and get directed back into the community through charities the club supports.
It’s a fitting tribute to a woman whose top priority was helping others, friends said. Linda and husband Don Bowden donated $20 million to the project.
Bowden helped select furnishings and artwork for Holly Chapel and the Greater Keller Ballroom.
“We’re just so happy to open it, and we know she’ll be right there watching over us,” Reynolds said.
Helping behind the scenes
Born in Wynnewood, Okla., Feb. 18, 1941, Bowden moved to Bowie in her early teens. Both her parents were educators. Bowden and a friend went to the principal at Bowie High School to convince him to start a girls basketball program. In 1955, Bowden’s team won the state championship with her dad, Doyle Campbell, as coach.
After graduating from Bowie, she attended the University of Oklahoma and become an avid Sooner fan.
Bowden worked at a bank in Dallas after graduating from OU and then taught high school business classes from 1966 to 1972 at L.D. Bell High School.
She and Don Bowden married in 1972. Their daughter Holly was born four years later.
Reynolds met Bowden when their children attended Keller Elementary School (now the Keller ISD Education Center). Bowden was active in campus PTAs throughout Holly’s school years, from the campus level to the Keller Council of PTAs. In 1992, Bowden was elected to the school board and served for 12 years.
One of the things Reynolds remembers most about Bowden was all the times she donated money quietly behind the scenes to help a child in need. She would call school counselors and ask who might need help. From funds to apply to college to money for an Indianette’s uniform, Bowden was ready to provide assistance without credit or fanfare.
“No one would know but the counselors all that she’d done for children,” Reynolds said.
After Holly was murdered in 1996, the Bowdens established the Holly Lynn Bowden Memorial Scholarship, which has been awarded to Keller students for the past 20 years.
Interested in people and their stories
Esteva Bargo, Bowden’s second cousin, close friend and personal assistant, said Bowden was “always working a room,” not to gain an advantage but to connect with people.
“If you’re talking to her, she was listening to you very intently,” Bargo said. “She was very interested in people and their stories.”
Reynolds said “Linda and Don were a good team.”
Bargo said Bowden was friendly and outgoing while her husband, who has owned several popular restaurants including Mercado Juarez, is more reserved. Both have been passionate about helping the community, donating to the Community Storehouse, Rocky Top Ranch, Victory Therapy Center, Metroport Meals on Wheels, Cook Children’s, Shriner Hospital and many more, she said.
“She’d rather spend her money to help others than on herself,” Reynolds said.
When Reynolds was moving from Keller to Southlake more than a decade ago, she was going to get rid of a white sofa. Bowden asked for it, and it still sits in the living room of the Bowden home.
Bargo said Bowden would never tell her true age, loved chocolate and traveling, especially to Alaska.
In her work with Keller schools and the Greater Keller Women’s Club, Bowden was a mentor to many women, encouraging them and leading by example, Reynolds said.
“She was God’s angel, sent here on earth to teach us and show us a better way to live our lives,” she said.
Services for Linda Bowden will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 17, in the sanctuary of Keller United Methodist Church, 1025 Johnson Road, Keller. Interment: Greenwood Memorial Park, Fort Worth. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Keller United Methodist Church, Greater Keller Women's Club Foundation or to a charity of choice in Linda Bowden's memory.