John B. Bowen ’78 (BUS) was known as a mentor with high standards to many of his associates at Morris Group Inc. He was a partner for more than 30 years and was a key contributor in guiding the company.
An enthusiastic UConn alum, he always credited the university with helping him to launch a successful career in accounting that culminated in becoming chief financial officer at the company.
When Bowen died in September at age 64 from cancer and advanced multiple sclerosis, the company wanted to find a way to honor and remember him. They decided to set up a generous endowed scholarship in his name at UConn to support accounting students.
“John touched so many people at our company and I wanted his name to be able to go on for a long time,” said Brad Morris, president and CEO of Morris Group of Windsor, Connecticut. “He mentored a lot of people.”
Corporate Controller Marie Sheehan, who worked for Bowen for 18 years, described him as a brilliant business leader who was more of a friend and mentor than a boss.
“He was a special person,” she said. “He was genuinely interested in other people and would often tour the building stopping to have conversations with employees along the way. He enjoyed talking to others not only about work, but also about their interests and hobbies and life outside of work. He was always willing to offer sagacious advice and assistance, if asked.”
She said the scholarship shows how much he meant to the company and honors his desire to help others.
“He would absolutely be really happy that there’s a scholarship set up for someone who otherwise couldn’t afford it,” she said.
George Plesko, head of UConn’s accounting department, said the scholarship will provide critical assistance to accounting students.
“This generous gift allows us to recognize and honor the legacy of John Bowen while providing substantial and important aid to our students,” he said. “This named award will allow his life story to be passed on to future generations of UConn accounting students.”
Bowen valued his UConn education, where he majored in accounting and held several jobs, including serving as an RA, a switchboard operator, and a school linen service representative. He frequently reminisced about his college days and encouraged others to consider going to UConn. In fact, three of five siblings followed him there, his wife, Debbie Bowen, said.
“When they told me about the scholarship it just kind of gave me chills,” Debbie Bowen said. “I know John would be happy and honored that they would do that. He absolutely loved UConn.”
She described her husband as a kind, family man who loved navigating Long Island Sound in sailboats and, later, in a cabin cruiser modified to accommodate his wheelchair. They lived in Farmington, raised two children, and later bought a condo along the river in Mystic so he could be near the water.
“He had a very upbeat outlook. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a year after we were married but he just never let that get in the way,” she said.
You can contribute to The John B. Bowen Memorial Scholarship Fund here.