Norman John Bowmaker

The Baltimore Sun

Norman John Bowmaker, a retired Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. executive who promoted racial harmony in 1960s West Baltimore, died of heart disease Friday at Atrium Village in Owings Mills. The former Ten Hills resident was 82.

Mr. Bowmaker, a division vice president at the utility, retired in 1987 after a 37-year career during which he served as an electrical engineer, human relations manager, and in electrical operations and general administration.

Born in Hartwick, N.Y., he served from 1943 to 1946 in the Army in Belgium and Germany and in the Mariana Islands in the Pacific.

After the war he earned an electrical engineering degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and later attended Hartwick College and Auburn University.

He started with BGE in 1950 and became director of corporate planning. He also sat on the board of its subsidiary, Resource and Property Management Inc. Gov. Marvin Mandel named him to his energy advisory and cable television committees.

Mr. Bowmaker, who moved to Ten Hills in 1961, became an advocate for equality and racial harmony. He participated in the Gwynn Oak Park desegregation demonstrations and the August 1963 March on Washington. He also worked to integrate apartment complexes along Edmondson Avenue.

"Norman and his wife just opened their arms to us. They were just like family, and we remained friends," said Inez Haynie Dodson, whose family joined his church as the first black communicants. "For the position he attained in life, he was a humble man. His faith drove him."

He served on the boards of his community association and the Baltimore Urban League. He was a founder of West Baltimore Interfaith, an interracial group that fought blockbusting in Edmondson Village. He was a founder of the Edmondson Coalition.

In later years, Mr. Bowmaker took in interest in finding jobs for the unemployed and became a volunteer with Genesis Jobs.

He also was on the boards of the Samuel Ready School, the Combined Industry and Commerce Health Appeal, the Baltimore City Life Museums and the President's Council of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

Mr. Bowmaker served on the board of managers of the St. Andrews Society of Baltimore and was a member of the Center Club, the Maryland Historical Society and several British genealogical and family history societies.

He also served the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and had been canon of management and finance in the 1980s.

Mr. Bowmaker researched his genealogy and traveled to Scotland and Northumberland County, England. He wrote From Till to Susquehanna, which chronicled his family's migration from the border country of Scotland to Otsego County in New York in the 1800s.

"A large part of his heart lay in Scotland. He felt his Scottish heritage strongly," said his daughter, Corinne Therese Bowmaker of Owings Mills. "He had a ready smile and twinkling blue eyes. He also looked very sharp in a kilt."

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, 4711 Edmondson Ave., where he had served on the vestry and had been senior warden. He also sang in the church's choir over five decades, chaired two search committees for parish rector, served in stewardship campaigns, and chaired an effort to establish Christ the King Church in Chadwick Manor.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include a son, Gordon Russell Bowmaker of Randallstown, and five grandchildren. His wife of 54 years, the former Shirley Ruth Storm, died in 2005. A daughter, Jan Celeste Bowmaker, died in 1998.

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