Former Pierce County Commission Chairman Mitch Bowen is remembered this week as a “good man who tried to serve others.”
Bowen, 80, died Thursday night, June 25, at Memorial Satilla Health in Waycross, following an extended illness.
“I loved that man,” said Joanna Yarbrough, longtime family friend. “He was like a father to me.”
Yarbrough had known Bowen during her growing up years and later worked for him at one of his businesses, Oak Plaza Restaurant.
“He always had time for everyone and he genuinely loved people and tried to help them,” she said, fighting back tears. “He always had time for me and for my family. I will always appreciate all the advice and help he has given me through the years.”
Bowen served as county chairman for a pair of non-consecutive terms including from 2002-2006 and from 2010-2014.
County Clerk Amy Hitt says Bowen introduced her to county government when he hired her to work in the planning and codes office in 2006.
“I will forever be grateful for all the opportunities that have come from that interview in 2006. Mr. Bowen was a good man who loved Pierce County. He was always good to me and I will miss him terribly.”
Bowen later asked Hitt to join the finance department in the county commission office in 2011. She later became county clerk.
During his tenure as chairman, the county went on a building spree, renovating and restoring the Pierce County Courthouse and the old Blackshear High School/Presbyterial Institute, now known as the Southeast Georgia Regional Agriculture Center (SEGARAC). Bowen called those buildings the two “crown jewels” at either end of Main Street.
Bowen also oversaw the construction of the new Pierce County Library. He helped negotiate the purchase of the Nichols Street Annex for county office buildings and helped to secure a traffic light and other improvements at Lairsey’s Crossing.
Bowen was also a successful businessman, having owned an Amoco service station, working in sales at Parrish Motors and Waters Ford, owning Oak Plaza Restaurant and having been a partner in the former Dixon-Bowen-Taylor Funeral Home.
Billy Taylor, former business partner with Bowen at Dixon-Bowen-Taylor Funeral Home, says Bowen loved people.
“He loved people and he could talk to anyone,” he said. “He loved the funeral business and he was very committed to our funeral home.”
Bowen was a native and life-long resident of Pierce County. He was a 1958 graduate of Blackshear High School. He was a member of Southgate Baptist Church and attended Truth Tabernacle.
Funeral services for Bowen were held Sunday afternoon at the chapel of Hart Funeral Home.
For a complete obituary, please see page 3.