Art Callaham: Don and Jone Bowman say yes when others say no

April 01, 2012|By ART CALLAHAM

Last week I attended a tribute for Don and Jone Bowman at the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center on the campus of Hagerstown Community College. The ARCC is a college basketball/volleyball and indoor track arena. Gosh, every inch of floor space was needed, as over 860 folks turned out to honor the Bowmans.

That tribute was small thanks for the many contributions made to this community by the Bowman family, their businesses, suppliers and clients. It might not be obvious to some to think of the Bowman’s impact on Mack Trucks (currently Volvo), local industrial parks, hotels and the convention and visitors trade, downtown redevelopment and restaurants, regional and national logistics, education and many other areas touched by these two local titans. 

But to those who know and care, those contributions are more than evident.

All the while those contributions were made quietly, humbly and with an eye on one thing — making this community, Hagerstown and Washington County, a better place to live, work and enjoy the blessings of being an American. 

Sure, the Bowmans acquired substantial wealth and some will view my statement about humility and making this community better as trite and baseless; but those that spew that venom will just show their ignorance about this special couple.

If you look in the dictionary under “self-made” you may find Don’s picture. He is the epitome of the storybook rise from one man and a truck to a trucking empire. By the way, standing beside Don in the picture is Jone; it is impossible to talk of one without talking about the other.

Don and Jone symbolize the American Dream; hard work and persistence pay off.  But I don’t really want to write about what the Bowmans have done; like them, I want to write about a vision, the Bowman vision; the future, not the past; new accomplishments, not what has been or not been achieved.

In their remarks at the tribute, both Don and Jone gave thanks for the many blessing they have been afforded, and both talked about the future, a bright future for this community. Their shared vision was of an even better community than the one we have today. Both outlined a road map to follow — commitment and persistence based upon a foundation of love — love for this community. 

That road map for success has worked for them in their personal and public experiences and will also work for our community.

What particularly caught my attention were some words from Don (I’ll have to paraphrase, however, I believe I am true to Don’s purpose): I hope that my great grandchildren, in 50 years, don’t have to stand on a similar platform and talk about things to do that we should be doing now.

We’ve been talking about a new or improved stadium for over 30 years, and other projects for 10 or more years to improve and revitalize Hagers-town and Washington County. And more often than not, as a community we have said no.

The time is now to move this community forward and I am committed to support those efforts and I call on each of you gathered here tonight to share that commitment.

Don’s and Jone’s words were powerful and ring true. In attendance at the tribute were four of the current Board of County Commissioners, the mayors of Hagerstown, Smithsburg and Hancock (I am sure there were other elected officials that I just didn’t see), business and community leaders of all sizes and varieties. All must share in Don’s and Jone’s commitment — be persistent in community-based actions and continue to believe that we can make this community a better place.

Certainly we’ve had our community successes; but much has been left undone or not started. The road to tomorrow starts with the first steps made today.

Sure, it’s a bad economic time and national debt may suffocate national growth; but here in Washington County we are positioned to take some first steps.

Like spring brings new birth to the earth, the Bowman’s commitment coupled with our community viewing the future as a half full glass instead of a half empty one, we can achieve that brighter future where our grandchildren will recount our achievements and not have to start doing the things we should have done.

My personal thanks to Don and Jone Bowman for your enthusiasm and your courage to inspire our leaders to move away from the “no we can’t” approach into the world of “yes we can!”

Art Callaham is a community activist and president of the Washington County Free Library Board of Trustees.

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