TribLIVE

| News

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Dying pastor makes investment in children

Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Crafton Elementary third-graders Abby Graner (center) and Rylan Henry, both 8, make their way along the school’s climbing wall on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. The school’s playground was improved because of donations from the Rev. C. Edward Bowen.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Crafton Elementary third-graders Abby Graner (center) and Rylan Henry, both 8, make their way along the school’s climbing wall on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. The school’s playground was improved because of donations from the Rev. C. Edward Bowen.
Joe Appel Photography - The Rev. C. Edward Bowen of Huntington, W.Va., stands in the playground of Crafton Elementary School on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2013. Bowen, a former pastor of Crafton United Presbyterian Church, established a charitable fund to benefit the children of Crafton.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Joe Appel Photography</em></div>The Rev. C. Edward Bowen of Huntington, W.Va., stands in the playground of Crafton Elementary School on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2013. Bowen, a former pastor of Crafton United Presbyterian Church, established a charitable fund to benefit the children of Crafton.
- Second-graders, including Kendric Carlson, 7, colored and wrote thank-you notes to the Rev. C. Edward Bowen in May.
Second-graders, including Kendric Carlson, 7, colored and wrote  thank-you notes to the Rev. C. Edward Bowen in May.
- a sign made by art teacher Michelle Dzurenda welcomes Rev. Ed Bowen on his visit last spring.
a sign made by art teacher Michelle Dzurenda welcomes Rev. Ed Bowen on his visit last spring.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Crafton Elementary School fourth-grader Jhream Keys, 9, (second from left) and third-grader Paris Fairrley, 8, spin on new playground equipment on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, at the school.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Crafton Elementary School fourth-grader Jhream Keys, 9, (second from left) and third-grader Paris Fairrley, 8, spin on new playground equipment on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, at the school.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Students at Crafton Elementary School play on the newly renovated playground equipment on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, at the school.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Students at Crafton Elementary School play on the newly renovated playground equipment on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, at the school.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Crafton Elementary School students play in the newly renovated playground on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, at the school.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Crafton Elementary School students play in the newly renovated playground on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, at the school.
- Second-graders, including Wilson Choate, 7, colored and wrote thank-you notes to the Rev.C. Edward Bowen in May.
Second-graders, including Wilson Choate, 7, colored and wrote  thank-you notes to the Rev.C. Edward Bowen in May.
- Second-graders, including Ireland Lopez, 7, colored and wrote thank-you notes to the Rev. C. Edward Bowen in May.
Second-graders, including Ireland Lopez, 7, colored and wrote  thank-you notes to the Rev. C. Edward Bowen in May.

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
By Bill Zlatos
Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, 9:40 p.m.
 

The Rev. C. Edward Bowen knows his intestinal cancer gives him only a year or two to live, but his ministry will live on through children in Crafton.

A corporate accountant for two years before entering the seminary and becoming pastor at Crafton United Presbyterian Church, Bowen, 41, lived frugally and invested well. He established a fund in his name at the Pittsburgh Foundation so that, eventually, the remainder of his estate will increase the fund to $1 million for causes that help the borough's children.

A portion of an initial $200,000 gift paid for repairs to the playground at Crafton Elementary School.

“I'm trying to use the time I have left to do as much good as I can,” he said in an interview from his home in Huntington, W.Va., where he became pastor of Bates Memorial Presbyterian Church after a dozen years in Crafton. His parents, Charles and Joyce Bowen, moved to be near him.

While in Crafton, Bowen fell in love with the borough, known for its mature trees and Victorian homes. Home to about 1,130 children ages 17 and younger, the community earned a “Best Place to Raise Children in Pennsylvania” distinction from Bloomberg Business Week in 2011.

Bowen did his part to help it win that title. He started a ministry that fed families, tutored students in Crafton Elementary, bought kids coats and held dances for them.

“I never met somebody quite like him,” said Jim Nagorski, a sixth-grade teacher at the school who is on the committee that administers Bowen's fund. “I don't know if I'll ever be lucky enough to meet somebody quite like him again.”

Bowen and his brother Andrew grew up in Bethel Park, where he graduated from high school.

“Around my junior year of high school, I felt, out of the blue, this voice in my mind, saying ‘I want you to be a minister,' ” Bowen recalled. “It was very unexpected. It was not a vocation I ever considered. Growing up, I always considered being a stockbroker.”

Soon after the epiphany, he said, members of his church, Bethel Park Presbyterian, asked him if he ever considered being a minister. He believes God was telling him what to do.

He worked in the youth ministry at a church while attending Grove City College, where he earned a degree in accounting and economics. He became an accountant but soon heeded the call: He was ordained at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Before moving to Crafton in 2000, Bowen served churches in Vandergrift and Slickville in Westmoreland County.

Savannah Sevacko, 11, a sixth-grader at Crafton Elementary, said Bowen taught her how to pray. She cried when she learned of his illness.

“I know I'll really miss him when he does go,” she said. Her family befriended Bowen by volunteering at his church and sometimes attended his services even though they are Catholic.

“Words can't begin to describe him,” said Savannah's mother, Georgene Sevacko, 47. “He's given so much to this community. He's made this community a lot closer.”

Emily Tipping, the PTA president at Crafton Elementary and Bowen fund committee member, said she tried to talk him out of giving away his money. She thought he should do something for himself.

“It's hard for me to accept gifts from individuals, but he would keep on giving and giving,” Tipping said. “He's made it clear it means a great deal to him.”

During recess at the school last week, kids ran to the playground, where part of the surface is rubberized thanks to Bowen's gift. It helped protect Rylan Henry, 8, when he fell from the top of a climbing wall. “I'm fine,” he announced as he popped up.

Bowen and the school are planning more projects — possibly installing rubber on the entire playground and buying computers for classrooms.

“Kids only have one chance to be a kid,” he said.

Bowen wants his body returned to Crafton when he dies, for a funeral at his former church two blocks from the school. He wants to be buried in Bethel Park Presbyterian's cemetery.

His illness is beginning to wear on Bowen, Nagorski said. The chemotherapy has side effects that cause him to stagger at times, and he has difficulty doing simple tasks such as buttoning a shirt.

“But his mind is there, and so is his heart,” Nagorski said.

Bill Zlatos is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Allegheny

  1. Shaler man charged with homicide, abuse of corpse in McKeesport woman’s death
  2. Port Authority’s plan for car-free communities slow to bear fruit
  3. Solarize Allegheny powers up with communities
  4. One person taken to hospital after fire in Scott
  5. Allegheny County police officer on leave after assault charges filed
  6. Gunfire wounds man near Riverview Park
  7. Newsmaker: Tamika Duck
  8. 3 Brentwood council members submit resignation letters
  9. Port Authority of Allegheny County eyes $2M in detour costs
  10. Civil War vet gets 21-gun salute
  11. Allegheny County Airport gets FAA grant to trim trees under flight path