Robert Edward "Bob" Bowman (February 18, 1928 - November 21, 2022) was a notable libertarian from Wisconsin who dedicated much of his life to advocating for libertarian principles. Born in Clinton, Illinois, Bowman's passion for country living and intellectual pursuits defined his multifaceted personality. He was an accomplished research scientist and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, known for his work on the effects of environmental toxins on brain function. However, beyond his scientific pursuits, Bowman had a love for writing, poetry, gaming, and local politics, where he fervently championed property rights. His contributions to libertarianism and dedication to its principles earned him recognition and awards from various political organizations.
Early Life and Academic Career
Robert Edward Bowman was born on February 18, 1928, in Clinton, Illinois, to Jacob and Mattie Bowman. He spent his early years in Illinois and attended the University of Illinois for a brief period. However, his decision to follow his heart and move to Wisconsin brought him to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1954, Bowman graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in chemistry, and later, in 1958, he earned a Ph.D. in psychology from the same university. His career as a research scientist and educator at UW-Madison spanned 33 years until his retirement in 1992. During this time, he conducted significant research at the Harlow Primate Lab, focusing on the impact of environmental toxins on brain function and behavior in rhesus monkeys. Bowman's academic journey was marked by authoring numerous papers and book chapters and mentoring many graduate students. He also chaired the Psychology Department from 1972 to 1975 and taught various psychology courses, leaving a lasting impact on his students.
Love for Country Living and Intellectual Pursuits
Outside of his academic endeavors, Bowman had a profound love for country living. In the 1960s, he purchased a picturesque wooded hillside property west of Madison, Wisconsin, where he and his wife, Grace Elaine Dixon, devoted themselves to building a unique ranch-style house with an indoor atrium. Their home became a labor of love and a testament to their dedication. Bowman's interest in yard work led him to create intricate rock walls using a skid loader and artistically fitted stones. He often hosted vibrant garden parties for friends and graduate students during the summer, filled with recreational activities like volleyball, badminton, and cookouts.
An intellectual with diverse interests, Bowman had a deep passion for writing and poetry. In his later years, he self-published a book of poetry titled "Bind the Clouds" and authored a series of seven fantasy novels, with "Daughter of Dreams" as the first installment. His background in neuroscience influenced this novel, which featured a little girl with magical powers trapped within her own mind. Additionally, Bowman was an avid gamer, regularly hosting poker nights and leading a long-standing Dungeons & Dragons group. He also cherished family traditions, taking his loved ones on yearly skiing vacations in Colorado.
Political Engagement and Libertarian Dedication
Upon retiring from academia, Bowman channeled his energies into local politics, becoming an active participant in the Cross Plains Town Board from 1995 to 2008. His principal focus was advocating for property rights, an issue he cared deeply about. To promote his libertarian beliefs and contribute to public discourse, he published a newsletter called "Freedom Matters" for 15 years. Bowman's commitment to libertarianism and his efforts to defend individual liberties and limited government gained recognition within the political sphere.
Bowman's dedication to libertarian principles earned him accolades and awards from political organizations. In 1998, the Libertarian Party of Wisconsin bestowed upon him the prestigious Liberty Award, recognizing his exceptional contributions to the promotion of libertarian ideals. Additionally, in 2015, the Moderate-Conservative Political Movement in Dane County recognized Bowman's distinguished service to democracy, further highlighting his influence in the political landscape.
Passing and Legacy
Robert Edward "Bob" Bowman passed away peacefully on November 21, 2022, at his home in Cross Plains, Wisconsin. He was survived by his sister, Alice Merreighn, and his children, Juli (Steve) Johnson, Thomas Bowman, and Madolyn (David) Rogers, as well as his grandson, Lucian Rogers. Bowman's legacy lives on through his contributions to science, literature, gaming, and his unwavering commitment to libertarianism. His love for country living, intellectual pursuits, and advocacy for individual freedoms continues to inspire and shape the lives of those who were fortunate enough to know him.