By Ben Olson
The world is shining a little dimmer this week. Ted Bowers, one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure to know, has passed away from a heart attack.
Ted has meant so much to a lot of people in this community. He was a father to Jenna and Darian, a husband to Gini, to Karen, a boss to his crew at Bowers Construction, a mentor to many and a friend to all. There is not enough space in the entire world to encapsulate Ted with any justice. I hope this small tribute will suffice.
My own father passed away ten years ago. It’s a hard thing losing a parent, but especially tough when you lose your father. They are anchors in your life, strong waypoints and beacons that keep you on track, keep you grounded. When my father passed, I was left without that beacon. I drifted aimlessly. I was unsure of who, if anyone, would take that position in my life as a guiding force.
Enter Ted Bowers. I’ve known Ted for a long time. He was the father of a good friend, and we always had a natural way together. He understood me and I understood him.
After my father died, Ted took it upon himself to step in as a surrogate father to me. He took me under his wing, showed me what he knew about music, about carpentry, about life. Ted knew a lot about life. More than he would ever let on.
He bought my photographs and hung them proudly in his home and office. He was always interested in what I was doing and always took the time to see how things were going. He was the closest thing to a father to me, and I am not alone in feeling this. There are so many of us out there that can credit Ted for making us better human beings.
A couple years ago, when I came back to Sandpoint after some rough circumstances, I found myself without a job or a direction. Ted immediately stepped in and put me to work. He knew I needed a hand. He set me loose on his property, instructing me to clean up piles of leaves, chop wood after the blowdown nearly flattened his home, and he even worked alongside me on various construction projects. We spent a couple of days building a horse barn together, and those days remain in my memory vividly. I got to watch Ted do his “cowboy carpentry” thing, which is a sight to behold.
An example of cowboy carpentry? We were fitting sheet metal pieces along the side of the barn and one didn’t quite fit. Ted, with one of his classic proverbs, said, “OK Ben, PTF that piece and then we’ll get to work on the other side.”
“PTF?” I asked. “What the hell is that?”
“Pound ‘Til it Fits,” he said, with a smile.
After I started the Reader, I no longer had the time to help out with house work, so I didn’t get many chances to hang out with Ted, aside from the occasional music jam. He wrote a bi-monthly column for the Reader until this winter, and was just getting geared up to start the column again in the next few weeks. Also, the moment I told him the Reader was coming back into print, he immediately signed up for a monthly ad. He was the very first person to pledge his support for my endeavor, and he has always been a big supporter.
Ted was kind and said his mind, but was always respectful of your feelings. He was the type of guy you never saw angry or short with people. He treated everyone with humanity and you couldn’t help but love him after meeting him. He was one hell of a bass player, a great father and husband, a loyal friend and a unique person who will be remembered forever.
The last time I saw Ted alive was during my Thursday deliveries. I told him of a mutual friend that was in some pain and Ted told me he’d see what he could to help. That’s Ted for you. Always there when you needed him.
When I heard that Ted passed, it was as if the world had stopped spinning. He had made a name for himself in Sandpoint not only as a master carpenter, but as a human being with a heart of gold. He has touched so many lives here, and his family remains my family, no matter if we don’t share the same blood. We share the same heart, and that’s what family is all about.
They have built a village of love and support, and I’m honored to be one of the many stray dogs the Bowers family has taken in, fed, nurtured, instructed and turned loose on the world. I would not be the same man I am today if not for Ted Bowers.
Sandpoint has lost a beautiful shining light. Rest in peace, Ted. Thank you for being a part of my life and showing me what it is to be a man.
A small informal service will be held for Ted Bowers at the Gardenia Center at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 6. Come to say goodbye, share memories with friends and family, and to celebrate a life well lived. A larger celebration will follow later in the spring.