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In Memoriam: Jack Bowman


Former Jt. MFH and Field Master of Oak Grove Hunt Club, John W. (Jack) Bowman died September 19, 2019 at his home in Como, Mississippi.  He was 92 years old.

John was born October 1, 1926 to the late John and Doretta Wippo Bowman in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Kelly High School in 1944 in Chicago, where he was a drummer in the concert band and orchestra. Following graduation he proudly joined the U.S. Army, serving in WWII – tours in the South Pacific, Leyte, Philippine Islands, Guam, Saipan, and the Marianas Islands. After serving his tour of duty, he went on to earn a Bachelor's degree in accounting from DePaul University in Chicago. He worked as a Certified Public Accountant in Illinois and Tennessee and was an income tax specialist.

Jack joined Oak Grove Hunt in 1967 soon after he moved to Memphis from Chicago, and was elected Jt. Master of Oak Grove in 1976. With infinite patience and a steady calculating demeanor, he led the first field for many years and then the non-jumping second field in his later years. Rarely missing a hunt, Jack rode to hounds well past his 87th birthday. His turn out was always impeccable! When newcomers to fox hunting or children were being taught about proper hunt attire, Jack was always the best example. His horse was always well groomed, his coat and vest spotless, boots polished, and his stock smartly tied and pinned.       

An excerpt from his unpublished autobiography about riding and fox hunting reads: “When we moved to Memphis, we looked for a riding stable in the Yellow Pages and found an ad for Claude McCormick’s stables. We went out to see him and asked to rent a horse so we could ride. He quickly informed me that it was not that kind of stable, that he taught hunt seat riding, and that his students learned to jump and fox hunt. I was somewhat taken aback as I had no intention of getting on a horse that was going to jump over the top of a fence! I told Claude that I would think it over and would call him sometime the following week. Well, we went out the next week for a lesson. Mr. McCormick taught me to jump and fox hunt. Riding and hunting have been my favorite recreation ever since. To have our own horse to ride, we bought one horse and then another, then a horse trailer. A few ribbons were won riding at horse shows. Eventfully in 1976 I had the honor to be elected Joint Master of Fox Hounds in Oak Grove Hunt Club.”

Peggy Hart, current Joint Master of Oak Grove tells a story about Jack and his gentlemanly, methodical nature.  Peggy’s daughter Carrie and her best friend Amanda were about eleven years old when they started fox hunting on their ponies. They rode behind Jack in his field, and for the entire season, Jack would dismount and open the gates for the two young ladies. At the end of the season, he took Peggy aside and said very quietly “Peggy I am getting tired of opening these gates. Would you please teach these girls to jump?” Peggy spent the off season giving the girls jumping lessons. They seemed ready by the time cubbing season began and after the first hunt Jack took Peggy aside and said privately, “You did well Peggy.” Amanda is now Jt. Master and Huntsman of the Oak Grove hounds and her daughter Evelyn started riding in Jack’s field on her pony at age four.

Jack met his wife Joan at a Germantown Charity Horse Show (GCHS) function.  Jack was an active member of The Lions Club, which sponsored a princess for the GCHS. Joan’s daughter Michelle was asked to be the Lions Clubs Princess and Jack was asked escort her to The Germantown Charity Horse Show Ball. Jack asked Joan to accompany them to the ball and, as both Jack and Joan were single at the time, they started dating, marrying about three years later.  

Jack was a charter member of the Germantown Lions Club where he served as President and Treasurer, and was named as Lion of the Decade twice. He was also a member of the Memphis Chapter of American Mensa Ltd., and a member of Old Glory Lodge No. 141 AF&AM, Westchester, IL and Berwyn Chapter No. 529, O.E.S., Berwyn, IL. Jack was a founding board member of the Alliance for the Blind and Visually Impaired and served as treasurer for many years. He was also a life member of the Memphis Chapter of Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants.

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