All who knew Jerry Bowen Jr. would agree that he was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was kind, loving, and compassionately accepting as his life was a reflection of what it means to be the hands and feet of the Lord he loved. A more devoted husband and father would be hard to find, and later in life he enjoyed being called Papa by his grandchildren. Someone who believed in the notion that anything is possible, Jerry made a significant impact in the cause for Christ. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
The 1950s are remembered as an exciting time in American history. While our country became a nation of 50 states with the additions of both Alaska and Hawaii during this time. This same time was a time of great excitement in the lives of Jerry Lee and Charlotte Ann (Sims) Bowen as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Jerry Lee, Jr. on July 21, 1959, in Coldwater, Michigan. The oldest of five children in his family, he was joined by his siblings, Darlene, Pam, Dawn, and Sandy.
Life was anything but easy when Jerry was growing up. When he was very young, he had to care for his ill mother and younger siblings, which is when his tender and loving spirit took root. He did get into a little mischief at times including the time Dawn was playing catcher while Jerry was practicing his swing and he knocked out her front teeth! After being placed in foster homes a bit later, he was caught stealing a deck of cards at the local pharmacy. Jerry’s punishment for the crime was going to church with the owners for several weeks. This is where the journey began with his relationship with God. Later, he was invited to a Word of Life Basketball Marathon and accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. Jerry attended Washington and Lincoln Elementary, and he later went on to graduate from Coldwater High School in 1976. From there he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Pastoral Theology from Grace Bible College. Years into the ministry, Jerry earned his doctorate.
New and exciting changes were in store for Jerry when he met the woman who would forever hold the key to his heart. Her name was Catherine Marie Rasmussen, and they met when they were both bus captains at church. They were competing against one another for the highest attendance, and when she beat him by one Jerry knew that he needed her by his side. He was struck by her love for the Lord most of all, and they began dating. Deeply in love, Jerry and Cathy were married, creating a new chapter in a love story that would give way to 35 years of marriage. He always said that outside of salvation Cathy was the best thing that ever happened to him.
Throughout his life Jerry was a family man through and through. He and his wife welcomed seven children including Jeremiah, Rachel, Brittany, Josh, Jared, Karina, and Justin into their hearts and home. As a father Jerry was a selfless and compassionate protector who made his loved ones feel safe. He was active in the lives of his children, and no matter the size of their accomplishments Jerry’s children knew he was proud of them. Sports were a huge part of his family whether playing or watching. He coached many of his kids teams, and somehow each one of his daughters ended up literally knocking Jerry out while playing sports. No matter how old his kids were, he always waited up to make sure they got home safely at night. Pets were always part of their home including farm animals and house animals, but the most loyal was their dog, Shaq.
Jerry had a long and rewarding career in the ministry in a variety of ways. Over the years he was a bus director, associate pastor, youth pastor, executive vice president at a Christian college, principle of a Christian school, and director of the Great Lakes Regional Convention. Jerry loved the position of senior pastor best as it allowed him to mentor, counsel, and lead those to Christ. He was always willing to go to someone’s house no matter the hour as his passion was simply caring for others. Jerry was senior and founding pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Michigan for 17 years and also for Heritage Baptist in California for five years. He always said his comfort zone was preaching the Word of God, and he preached with such zeal and compassion. Jerry remained a senior pastor until his last day with a career that spanned 45 years of Christian service. He never wanted to retire as his deepest desire was to serve God until his last day.
There were so many things that made Jerry truly extraordinary. He could fill a room like no other, and he brought laughter and joy wherever he went. Jerry showed God’s love to everyone whether his wife and children, those in his church, or anyone he met while out and about. He loved and accepted everyone where they were at and came alongside people to help them get to where they wanted to be. Everyone always remarked on the size of his hands whether the was giving a handshake, holding hands with his wife, or comforting his children. Jerry always gave his full attention to his wife and devoted his days to loving her well. He always said the three greatest days of his life were the day he was saved, the day he married his sweetheart, and the days that each of his children were born. Another point of pride for Jerry was his 10 grandchildren, whom he loved dearly. Jerry loved collecting Spiderman memorabilia, and his favorite sports teams were the Lakers, Cowboys, and the Dodgers. As his family and friends can attest, he talked to the players and refs like he was right there with them. Jerry’s favorite verse was Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knows not.”
With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around him, Jerry Bowen made a significant impact in the lives of countless others. He knew that through Christ all things are possible, and he lived his life that way every day. Jerry cherished his wife and children, and he never took one moment with them for granted. He was a collector of people, and he accepted others for exactly who they were and without condition. Deeply loved, Jerry will be forever missed.
Jerry Lee Bowen Jr. 62, formerly of Plainwell, Michigan, passed away on Friday, November 12, 2021, in California. Jerry is survived by his wife, Catherine; his children: Jeremiah (Brittany) Bowen, Rachel Bowen, Brittany (Sean) Fowler, Josh (Karlee) Bowen, Jared (Kendra) Bowen, Karina (Josh Ravega) Bowen and Justin (Destiny Mata) Bowen; 10 grandchildren; his sisters: Pam and Sandy as well as several nieces and nephew.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his sisters: Darlene and Dawn. Visit with family and friends on Saturday, November 20 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Lighthouse Baptist Church: 12220 Cressey Rd, Plainwell, MI 49080. A funeral service will follow at 11:00 at the same location followed by a graveside service at Cressey Cemetery.
While visiting Jerry’s webpage at www.mccowensecord.com please sign the guestbook by lighting a candle, and/or sharing a memory with the family.
The Bowen family is being cared for by the McCowen & Secord Funeral Home, 120 South Woodhams, Plainwell, MI 49080 (269) 685-5881.