San Mar girls touched Bowman's heart

August 30, 2005|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note: There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like...

Jone Bowman

Age: 66 (her birthday was Monday)

Hometown: Williamsport

Where would you see Bowman? The past six years, Bowman has served on the Board of Directors for San Mar Children's Home in Boonsboro. After a visit to the facility and hearing the heartbreaking stories of two of the girls, she couldn't say no.

The girls at San Mar range in age from 12 to 18 years old. Not all the girls want to be there, Bowman said, but most know they need help.


The circumstances that bring the girls to San Mar vary - dysfunctional families, abuse and/or neglect, anger and trust issues.

"If you can't trust your own parents, who can you trust?" Bowman said. "You just want to help them so much."

Some of the girls attend Boonsboro public schools, while others are schooled at San Mar, and occasionally Brook Lane. After they receive counseling and whatever other services they need, they can go home or go into foster care.

"Some of the girls don't even have a home to go to. That's a sad thing, thinking that no one wants them," Bowman said.

The home is partially subsidized by the state, but Bowman said private funding is essential for the facility to be well run. The state allows the girls to stay at San Mar no longer than six to nine months, Bowman said.

Even though her term on the board at San Mar has ended, Bowman is still involved and said more money is needed for the new group home they want to build.

Bowman, who said she grew up in a wonderful family, can't imagine not having a home to go to. She was born in Sproul, Pa., then her family moved to Hagerstown when her father took a job with Fairchild.

Her school years were spent at Woodland Way School, Fountaindale, Hagerstown High and North Hagerstown High, from where she graduated in 1957.

After high school, Bowman got a job at the city engineer's office in Hagerstown. She and Don Bowman dated for six weeks before marrying in February 1960.

They had met years before when he worked at a gas station down the street from her home in Hamilton Park. The Bowmans have two children and five grandchildren.

Jone Bowman remembers their first apartment on Virginia Avenue that rented for $45 a month, a far cry from their historic home, Milestone Farm, on Hopewell Road in Williamsport.

The home has been the site of many family gatherings, and this year alone will be the location for four fundraising events - in April, the kickoff of San Mar's capital campaign, the Humane Society of Washington County's Lu'Howl and a visit by Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, both in June, and on Sept. 16, the Reaching for the Moon Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser.

Bowman was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996 and served on the Board of Directors for Y-Me (now Breast Cancer Awareness - Cumberland Valley).

Her daughter-in-law, Tracey, is an active volunteer with the Humane Society and Jone admits she has a soft spot for the animals at the shelter. She and her husband have two elderly dogs, both that her mother took in as strays.

"I know even when I was a kid, we took in strays," Bowman said.

Hobbies: The Bowmans enjoy traveling, especially to their homes in Florida and Deep Creek Lake. Jone said her husband, who owns Bowman Trucking and is involved in real estate and development, is able to get away because he has a great staff.

Spending time with family is Bowman's favorite thing, even though she wishes she had more time for it. She especially enjoys snow tubing with their grandchildren at Deep Creek.

Bowman said she's gotten closer with her three brothers since their mother died and the siblings try to spend together when then can.

"We kind of like to play a lot," Bowman said with a laugh.

The couple also enjoys golf and like to play a variety of courses. They also bike together - the C&O Canal Rail Trail is a favorite - and walk four miles just about every day, something they've done for close to 20 years.

"I have so many things I want to do before I die," said Bowman, who added she never gets bored.

She'd like to write her story and her husband's story for their children and grandchildren, documenting the trips they've taken.

Bowman said Don's mother, a schoolteacher, died when he was born. They found a travel log she had kept of a trip she had taken out west and retraced the route, traveling the back roads Don's mother had taken years before.

What does Bowman like best about Washington County? "It's just such a good area. It's so close to so many things - the ocean, mountains, New York City, D.C., Baltimore. It's just an ideal location," Bowman said.

She remembers when she moved to Williamsport with Don after they got married.

"I thought I was going to the sticks. Now he couldn't get me out of here," Bowman said. "I still consider it small town. Going to school here and owning a business, we know so many people."

If you know anyone in the community who might make an interesting Our Town feature, contact Janet Heim at 301-733-5131, ext. 2024 or e-mail

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