He went by “Bruce,” and his story began on a North Dakota farm far from civilization. He was born in Fargo to Ethel Roberts Bowerman and Herbert Percy Bowerman. He had four siblings: Charles, Virginia, Galen and Glenn. The farm life in Dawson was harsh at times. Bruce lost his mother at age 5. It was a time that still relied on horses, as well as machinery, to scratch out a living in one of the most extreme climates anywhere. During the wintertime, he would regularly ice skate across Kunkel Lake as a shortcut to Buckeye School.

Shortly after graduating from Steele High School in 1943, with World War II in progress, Bruce enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He was stationed throughout the South and became a fighter pilot. He flew several different fighter planes during that time but never left the states. Bruce was also a proud member of the North Dakota Rough Riders, founded by Theodore Roosevelt.

After the war ended and he received his discharge, Bruce then landed in San Francisco. There, while dancing at an upscale night club one evening, he met his future wife. Olga Marie DiStasio was sent out from Northern Minnesota by AT&T to work as a wartime operator. The two had a Midwest connection and a real love of dancing and traveling. 

After a San Francisco wedding, Bruce began a career in construction, first building homes and then as an electrician. Along the way, they had two sons, Steve and Gary. The family resided in Belmont, Los Gatos, and San Jose. And in 1967, they moved into the custom home Bruce built in El Granada. He always mentioned that the ideal climate was here on the coast, which attracted him here initially and made for perfect working conditions.

Then, in 1973, Bruce received his contractor’s license and established his company, Bowerman Electric, in Half Moon Bay. He eventually became highly respected as a contractor, and after retiring in 1990, his son Steve took over this business. This year marks the 50th year of the company.

Much of his retirement years were spent bicycling along the Coastside Trail, and beachcombing at Surfer's and Mavericks beaches. Bruce enjoyed ocean fishing in his boat and talking with many fishermen at the harbor. He also volunteered for Senior Coastsiders for a period of time.

Throughout his life, Bruce traveled extensively, including all 50 states. He and Olga explored Europe together, and also enjoyed every friend or relative who came to town to visit them in their home.

The one habit Bruce never kicked was his huge love of hunting. He was an expert marksman, with an insatiable taste for all wild game. He never missed an opening day. On his boyhood farm in Dawson, which he held on to, the decoys were set every September in time for the season. As a young man he had limited ammunition for hunting but was still expected to help provide game to a Depression-era home.

In 1999, Bruce lost his wife, Olga. He decided that after 50 years in California, it was time to head back to live in his home state of North Dakota. It was there he met a former high school classmate, Ruby Ritchie. They spent their final years together between the farm, Steele, and Bismarck. Ruby passed away on April 3, 2022. 

Bruce is survived by his sons, Steve Bowerman, of El Granada, and Gary Bowerman, of Loomis, Calif., and his daughters-in-law, Teresa and Rhonda Bowerman. Janelle Bowerman of Pescadero, Calif., is his only grandchild, and his last remaining sibling is brother Glenn Baillie, of Minnetonka, Minn. He is also survived by his many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. 

Bruce will always be remembered for his enjoyment of life with family and friends, as well as for being a strong, genuine, unique, special person and family patriarch, exhibiting a great sense of humor, and for his famous one-liners. Playing card games, shooting pool, and dancing were part of his lifetime itinerary. He always had fun and never regretted it, right up until two months before his 98th birthday! “I’ll just fall back and regroup!” That sentence will always define him.

Love and blessings to our Bruce! 

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 10, at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos. In lieu of flowers, the family gratefully requests donations to Senior Coastsiders in Bruce’s memory.

(0) entries

Sign the guestbook.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

More Stories

Virginia Lloyd, age 81, passed away Wednesday, May 11, 2022, peacefully at home, surrounded …

  • Updated

Bill Fetter passed away peacefully on June 2, 2022, at his home in Pescadero from kidney fai…