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Dr. Bowen’s lasting legacy

It has been 25 years since Dr. Thomas Marshall Bowen was killed in a snowmobiling accident near Elk City.

He was just 41 years old, and he left behind a wife and six children, ages 4 to 16. He also left a legacy, having impacted countless colleagues and patients during the 10 years he performed surgeries and took care of patients at Gritman as an orthopedic surgeon.

Thursday, Alyssa Hoehn, one of Dr. Bowen’s daughters, stood alongside her mother, Patricia Bowen, in the Thomas Marshall Bowen Memorial Courtyard on the third floor of Gritman Medical Center. The two gazed over the space, lined with blooming trees, shrubs and flowers, that was dedicated a quarter century ago to honor Dr. Bowen’s service and contributions to the community and Gritman.

About a dozen people, including several Junior Volunteers and Gritman physical therapist and Master Gardener Mark Heinlein, joined Alyssa and Patricia, a dentist at Moscow Family Dentistry, on the rainy afternoon to give the courtyard a little extra care and to remember Dr. Bowen.

Alyssa, who was just shy of her 10th birthday when her father died, has followed Dr. Bowen’s footsteps into the medical profession and is now an ophthalmologist at Moscow Family Eye Care. She serves many of the same patients her father had years ago. Most are eager to share their stories about how Dr. Bowen – who had a passion for orthopedics and aeronautics – always went out of his way to help and care for others.

“I get to hear those stories, and I think, ‘oh, my word, those are big shoes to fill,’ ” Alyssa said.

“It’s been fun coming back and practicing and getting to know a different side of my dad that I didn’t know. Just in the last two weeks, I have had more patients tell me stories about him. He had a good sense of humor, he loved his patients and he worked so hard.”

Patricia also frequently has patients who fondly remember her husband.

“I just love hearing stories about him – a lot of the stories are still new to me,” she said.

Both are honored to know the courtyard bears his name.

“It’s a little manifestation of his impact on the community,” Alyssa said.

“It’s a place to come and a place to remember,” Patricia added.

It is likely many of the people visiting the courtyard never had the privilege of meeting or getting to know Dr. Bowen, but a plaque at the far end of the space helps to give a glimpse of the person he was.

It reads, in part: “For 10 years Tom unselfishly labored to make man whole. He is remembered for his unswerving integrity, his gracious care for the needs of his patients and a contagious sense of humor. His spirit lives on in the lives of his family, colleagues and those he touched.”