Rev. Henry Bowdon, Jr.


Joseph Henry Bowdon, Jr., son of Dr. and Mrs. J. Henry Bowdon, was born in Jackson, La., April 21, 1927.  On July 9, 2020, God received Henry and confirmed his gift of eternal life which he had given him when he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. 

Rev. Bowdon graduated from Lake Charles High School in 1944.  Though he never saw combat, Henry was a quartermaster and cook in the US Army during World War 2, stationed in Attu in the Aleutian Islands.  He served with the 158th Engineering Company as a 1st cook.  And that’s where he learned how to cook or bake almost anything and do it in large quantities.  He was proud of his service to our country.  

He attended McNeese State College two years before receiving his B.A. degree from Centenary College, June, 1949.  While at Centenary he was a member of the Centenary College Choir, president of the Methodist Student Movement, a member of Gentry, and elected to the National Leadership Fraternity, ODK.  He received his B.D. degree from Perkins School of Theology, SMU, in June, 1952.

On June 5, 1950, he married Virginia Kirkland.  They have three sons: Joseph Henry, III, a graduate of the Church Careers program at Centenary (1976); John Kirkland; and Kenneth Steven, a graduate of Centenary College (1978) with a B.S. degree in Geology; and one daughter, Virginia Louise Ellsworth, who also attended Centenary, receiving a B.S. in Biology and a degree in Veterinary Science at LSU.

Character…Integrity…Conviction…Passion…Devotion…Heart…Loyal…Humble… Caring… Loving…words that describe Henry Bowdon.  Henry was a man of God.  Hearing God’s call, he took on the mantle of being a Minister of the Gospel.  He devoted 100% of himself to all he did as a United Methodist Pastor and Preacher, and as a husband, father, grandfather, colleague and friend.  The patriarch of his family, he loved his wife, children, grandchildren and family very much. 

Rev. Bowdon served churches across Louisiana: as associate pastor, First Methodist Church, Lake Charles, La., and Director of the McNeese Wesley Foundation; and as pastor of Live Oak, Moss Bluff / Eastwood, Abbeville, First Methodist, Plaquemine, Haynesville, Rayville, Mangum Memorial in Shreveport, First UMC in DeRidder, Blackwater UMC in Baton Rouge, First UMC in Lake Charles, First UMC in Houma, and St. Luke-Simpson UMC in Lake Charles.  Under his leadership as a builder, most of the churches he served entered a building program.  

Rev. Bowdon served in many capacities on various Conference and District Boards and Committees.  He was always active in community affairs where he served, being a member of various civic groups and organizations.

Rev. Bowdon was a life-long supporter of Centenary College, inheriting his interest from his father, J. Henry Bowdon, a recipient of a Doctor of Divinity Degree from Centenary and a Trustee of the College for many years.  

One of Henry’s loves was the Centenary College Choir with which he was involved and supported for decades.  As a Choir Alum, even to the present day, members of the Centenary College Choir know who Henry Bowdon was.  

Another love of Henry’s was the Boy Scouts of America.  “Rev.”, as the Scouts called him, was an active leader in Scouting, touching the lives of an untold number of boys.  He received the Eagle Rank in Troop 5 sponsored by First United Methodist Church, Lake Charles, La.  As an adult leader, Henry received just about every Scouting award there is.  His proudest achievement was the fact that he himself was an Eagle Scout, along with each of his three sons.

Henry has been welcomed into God’s eternal presence.  Thanks be to God!  Upon his arrival, Henry heard these words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21, KJV).

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