This weekend, Don Bowen passed away, nearly two years after being diagnosed with brain cancer. His battle certainly had its ups and downs, but his faith in God remained strong and was truly an inspiration to me, and I’m sure to many others. He has long been one of the men I admire most, and although it was sad to see him go, we can take comfort in the knowledge that he is truly in a better place, free of pain and full of praise.
I first met Don about ten years ago when we both worked at Caterpillar. I was fresh out of college and inherited responsibility for the Corporate Web Security (CWS) system, a web-based single sign-on environment built from scratch using a collection of Perl scripts, a web server plugin, and (at the time) Netscape Directory Server 3.11. Don had previously overseen the CWS project, and someone suggested that I talk to him to learn more about how it was put together. He gave me a pretty good grilling, and actually I came out of it a little scared of him. I can’t imagine what he must have done to the guys brave enough to try to date one of his daughters. Nevertheless, I must have done well enough because within a few months he asked me to join him at a startup in Baltimore (B2B Communications, later renamed to TidePoint Corporation), which I did.
Unfortunately, TidePoint fared about as well as many of the other startups around that time, and when it came to an end we separated for a bit when he went to the Burton Group and I joined Netscape Communications. However, we were reunited after only a few months when we both came to Sun Microsystems at about the same time (he actually called me and told me he was probably going to be joining Sun while I was there for my interview). And most recently, we helped to found UnboundID Corp., where despite his diagnosis days after forming the company, he was a tremendous asset to the company in many ways and I know we certainly wouldn’t be where we are today without him. Even after he was no longer able to work, he continued to stay involved and the last time I was able to have a meaningful conversation with him (about two weeks ago), he wanted to know what I was working on so he could continue to pray for me.
Please pray for Don’s wife, their four daughters, his parents, and their myriad friends. I can’t imagine how exhausting things must have been for them, especially within the last couple of weeks, but it is a blessing to see and to experience the strong support network they have. We will miss his presence, but his memory will live on, and his eternity is secure.