John LeRoy Bowman

Published 4:42 pm Friday, October 9, 2020

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John LeRoy “Lee” Bowman, 85, passed away peacefully at home Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. He was born in Portsmouth on Dece. 5, 1934, the only child of the late John L. and Lois P. Bowman.

He was happily married to Marie Brewster Bowman for 62 years. Together they raised three daughters, Annette, Kathy and Alice.

A dedicated Hokie alumnus, Lee graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1957 with a degree in mechanical engineering. It was there that he met his sweetheart, Marie, and they were married in December 1957. Lee was commissioned in the Navy and served on the USS Preserver as a diving officer. Lee retired as a Captain from the Naval Reserves after 20 years of service. Lee worked as a mechanical engineer with several companies in the Richmond area, and moved with his family to Suffolk in 1974 to work for Planters Peanuts. Then in 1986, he became the co-owner of Schadel Sheet Metal Company until he retired in 1999.

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A lifelong Methodist, Lee was devoted to Main Street United Methodist Church, serving as property chairman for 20 years. In that role, he was actively involved in numerous renovations and improvement projects, including the restoration of the Moeller organ, the stained glass windows, and the expansion of the church facilities.

Music was Lee’s gift and passion which he generously shared with others. Lee sang as a soloist and choir member and played the organ and piano at Main Street and other churches. Lee’s beautiful baritone was heard in the Pickard Chorale, YMCA Chorus and at multiple weddings and funerals.

In addition, Lee served his community for 40 years as a member of the local Kiwanis club in various leadership roles, especially supporting the CHKD through the annual peanuts fundraiser.

Lee is survived by his wife, Marie, and three daughters, Annette Toner, Kathy Rader and husband Carlton, and Alice Newell and husband Dan. Lee and Marie have seven grandchildren, Blair, Daniel, Meghan, Laura, Kate, Mac, Faith, and five great-grandchildren, Noah, Teddy, Gray, Henry, and Leah. He also leaves behind many nieces, nephews, and lifelong friends, with whom he shared many good times at Ocean Park and Nag’s Head beaches. The family would like to give a special thanks to Lee and Marie’s caregivers, Jackie Lanier and others. 

Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13 at Main Street United Methodist Church with a reception to follow at King’s Fork Community Center. The family would like to invite all of Lee’s friends and family to join us. Memorials may be sent to Main Street United Methodist Church. Condolences may be sent to Lee and Marie’s home address at 318 London Bridge Drive, Danville. Online condolences at

The family will receive friends on Monday at the home of Kathy Rader at 811 General Pickett Drive, Suffolk. Covid restrictions will apply for the service and reception.