Former Phillips 66 executive and basketball legend Charlie Bowerman inspired a kind of self-confidence in those he met.
Prince or pauper, no one would need to spend much time in the warmth of his laid-back personality and unforgettable smile without feeling better about themselves – and the world.
His final chapter on this globe is over. He died on September 2, preceded less than six months by his beloved wife Coralea, aged almost 63 years. Their union gave birth to three daughters: Cindy Dean (husband Paul), Cristie Lister (husband Darren) and Candie Morris (husband Jeff) and more than 10 grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
“Early in my career, he convinced me that I could go as far as I wanted in the business,” said Bob Pomeroy, his friend of 48 years. “I didn’t have a college degree, and it was Charlie who convinced me that if I worked hard, I would do well. Those words…stayed with me throughout my 39 years at Phillips.”
Trying to summarize Bowerman’s life is like trying to capture a beautiful dawn in a bottle. The scene fades away. Only the invisible essence of memory remains.
Bowerman was a mixture of goodness: a loving and devoted family man, a God-centered believer, a great athlete, a productive man of action in his profession, a humanitarian who let his actions do the talking, and a behind-the-scenes power worthy of this name. individual and civic efforts.
“A few words come to mind when I think of Charlie Bowerman: warm, caring, welcoming, fun, mischievous,” said longtime associate and friend Debbie Mueggenborg.
Mueggenborg first met Bowerman when they were co-chairs of the Bartlesville American Legion World Series (ALWS) committee together. At first, she didn’t feel up to Bowerman as a leader.
“I was a little nervous about working with someone of his status. … Dennis and I met Charlie and Corky at (a fundraiser),” she recalled. “The first thing he said was ‘I heard we’re having a baseball tournament!’ From then on, Charlie and Corky were the warmest, kindest, most welcoming to us.”
“He was a great ‘family man,’” Pomeroy said. “Even though he traveled a lot…he always had time for his family. And no one ever had a better friend than Charlie.”
Charlie and Coralea were both born in Alamo, Indiana.
Charlie grew up with a passion for basketball – and he honed his skills to the level of a Hoosier State legend.
After playing for his father in high school, Bowerman attended Wabash College (Indiana). He scored 53 points in a five-overtime win over Butler. He then set the school record of 63 points in a game – which still stands today. He led Wabash to the NCAA regional championships four times.
In 1982, Wabash inducted the 6-foot-1 former dynamo into its College Athletics Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.
Bowerman’s incredible basketball exploits brought the NBA knocking on his door, as a fifth-round draft pick in 1961 by the New York Knicks. But Phillips 66 had already interviewed Bowerman for a spot on the iconic Phillips 66ers men’s basketball powerhouse (AAU) and for a corporate job.
Preferring the stability of a guaranteed career as well as the opportunity to continue playing basketball at a high level, Bowerman chose to come to Bartlesville.
He had the chance to try out for the 1964 United States men’s Olympic basketball team and also earned AAU All-American honors.
After his playing years with the 66ers, Bowerman eventually became senior vice president of international petroleum products and a member of the board of directors for Phillips.
He retired in 1999 after a distinguished career of 38 years.
Over the decades, Bowerman and his wife devoted their energy to revitalizing Bartlesville.
“My family and I decided (in 2006) to create a scholarship in Lou’s memory that would benefit student-athletes,” recalled Stephanie Skurcenski, whose husband Lou also played for the 66ers, although not at the same time as Bowerman. “We are placing the funds in the Bartlesville Community Foundation. …I learned that Charlie was instrumental in the creation of this foundation. His dedication and hard work…helped establish this foundation that benefits so many people in Bartlesville today. »
Bowerman also played a key role in the creation of the Bartlesville Athletic Commission, whose activities generated several million dollars in economic impact for the city, and which also created the Bartlesville Athletic Hall of Fame.
He and his wife were instrumental in building the new Boys & Girls Club of Bartlesville, Skurcenski said.
Perhaps his most important informal contribution to the local sports tradition was hosting or facilitating several meetings of the Phillips 66ers in Bartlesville. Away from the spotlight, he also coached youth sports teams and hosted an annual basketball camp for many years.
“Charlie could be mischievous,” Mueggenborg said, recalling how Bowerman accidentally got kicked while referring to Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Feller as “Joe” Feller.
“From that point on, he gave me grief. … But it was always for fun,” she said. “I will miss Charlie and his cheerful personality. I know where he is and hope to see him there.”
In the meantime, his passing will be deeply felt.
“He will be missed but he leaves a legacy that we can follow to continue the good work he started,” Pomeroy said.