OBITUARY: Gordon A. Bowker, WWII Veteran

Gordon Abbott Bowker, age 95, died peacefully Saturday, March 25, 2017 in Sandwich after a long and active life. He was the husband of the late Helen Christine (Roh Petersen) who died February 15, 2017. Born in Worcester in 1921, he was the son of the late Harold Sawyer Bowker and Susie Mai (Upham) Bowker.

 The third of four sons, Gordon was raised in Worcester and grew up hiking and exploring the woods of central Massachusetts with his brothers. He attended Worcester public schools and was a competitive swimmer and natural athlete who could swing a golf club as easily as a baseball bat. He received degrees from Framingham State University and Becker College. He was an Eagle Scout and was awarded many blue ribbons from the Worcester Horticultural Society for exhibiting the tuberous begonias he grew. He was an excellent marksman.

Gordon enlisted in the US Navy in 1941 and attended the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. He served as Chief Intelligence Yeoman in the submarine service in the Pacific.

In early 1942 he was assigned to the USS Trout (SS-202) and completed seven submarine combat war patrols include the famous “Gold at the end of the Rainbow” patrol from Corregidor. He deployed for the Battle of Midway. A last minute transfer forced him to leave the Trout in December 1943 before the beginning of the sub’s eighth war patrol. In February 1944 the Trout was sunk off the coast of Japan killing all 77 aboard. Gordon also served aboard the USS Tambor (SS-198) for two additional submarine combat war patrols. He was assigned to SubDiv-61 and CSD-43 at Midway Island as a member of the Midway Submarine Relief Crews making the Pearl Harbor relief crew trials on USS Pickerell (SS-177), USS Herring (SS-233), USS Gar (SS-206), USS Wahoo (SS-238), USS Salmon (SS-182), USS Plunger (SS-179), USS Harder (SS-257), USS Flasher (SS-249), USS Drum (SS-228), USS Shark (SS-174) and the submarine tender USS Holland (AS-3). He served as Chief-in-Charge of the combat communication unit on Okinawa in 1945 and relayed information on the Japanese surrender to Adm. Chester Nimitz. He was wounded there while setting up the radio-operated teletype. 

Gordon and Helen married in June 1946 and started their family in Worcester before moving to Littleton’s Snow Village in 1955. During his civilian life, he was an executive with IBM, Lincoln Laboratories and the Concord Cooperative Bank. Active in town affairs, he served on the Board of Assessors, led the Town Forest Committee and served as Scoutmaster for Littleton’s Boy Scout Troop 1. He was a “plank owner” member of the Littleton Sportsman Club and Deacon of the Congregational Church. Gordon was a 32nd degree Mason with the Tahattawan Lodge A.F. & A.M, Littleton.

Gordon’s love of the outdoors spanned his entire life. He remained an avid hiker of the White Mountains well into his 80s, documenting every trip with precise detail. More recently, he could always be found in his gardens, propagating boxwood, rhododendron and tucking in new bulbs here and there.

He leaves his sons Roger and his wife Mary of East Sandwich; and Douglas and his dearest friend Jeanne Bartel of Weston; and his daughter Elizabeth Jackson of Westford and her companion Phil Gauthier. He also leaves his grandchildren: Thorsten Bowker of Sandwich, Olympia Bowker of Cambridge, Katherine Jackson and her husband Brad Milley of Colorado and Eric Jackson of Westford. He is survived by his brother Dudley F. Bowker and his wife Gladys of Worcester and many nieces and nephews.  Gordon was predeceased by his brothers Calvin of Paxton and Bradley of Worcester.

Family and friends will gather to honor and remember Gordon for visiting hours on Thursday, March 30 from 4-7 p.m. in the Badger Funeral Home, 347 King Street, Littleton, a Masonic memorial service will be held at 6:30 p.m. with his brothers from his home lodge: Tahattawan A.F. & A.M presiding.  His funeral service will be on Saturday, April 1 at 11 a.m. in the Congregational Church of Littleton, 330 King Street, Littleton. Burial with U.S. Navy Military Honors at Rural Cemetery, Worcester will be private.

Donations in Gordon’s memory may be sent to the Tahattawan Lodge Children’s Angel Fund, 310 King Street, Littleton, MA 01460
Arrangements under the care of Badger Funeral Home, A Life Celebration Home, Littleton.  To share a memory or offer a condolence visit: www.badgerfuneral.com

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