Dr. Charles Henry Bowers, whose career as a Baltimore educator spanned nearly four decades, died Tuesday in his sleep at his Govans home. He was 83.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Fulton Avenue, Dr. Bowers was a 1943 graduate of Dunbar High School.
His college studies at what is now Morgan State University were interrupted when he enlisted in the Navy during World War II.
"He was among the first group of African-Americans trained as machinist mates who reached the rank of machinist mate third class," said his son, Bernard A. Bowers of Pikesville, who is director of diversity at Loyola High School.
Dr. Bowers, who served aboard the destroyer USS John W. Weeks in the Atlantic, liked reminiscing about his Navy days.
"His most memorable adventure on sea was participating in a rescue of a sinking ship that eventually went down in the Bermuda Triangle during a very bad storm," his son said. "He always ended the story with an account of his one and only bout with seasickness, which for him was unforgettable."
Dr. Bowers remained an active naval reservist after the end of World War II and was called back to active duty during the Korean War.
After being discharged in 1956, Dr. Bowers returned to Morgan, where after completing several credits he earned a bachelor's degree in science that year.
In 1971, he earned a master's degree from Morgan, and his doctorate in philosophy from the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati in 1978.
Dr. Bowers, who began teaching science at Gwynns Falls Elementary School in 1957, eventually joined the faculty of Booker T. Washington Junior High School. In addition to teaching at the junior high school, he was science department chairman.
He was appointed vice principal of Clifton Park Junior High School and later principal of Fairmount Hill Junior-Senior High School.
"I didn't want to go to his schools. I knew what those kids had to deal with because I had to deal with him at home, and that was enough," his son said, laughing. He said students loved his father even though he made them follow his rules.
"His expertise in education was noted by experts, and before his retirement in the early 1990s, he was selected to serve as an educational executive on loan to the federal government," his son said.
"He was credited with developing and implementing the alternative-school model which has been replicated across the country," Mr. Bowers said.
He enjoyed discussing astronomy, astrophysics and aerospace issues.
"Because of discussions he had with my daughter, his granddaughter, she is now working on the Hubble Space Telescope," his son said.
Dr. Bowers was a fan of tropical fish and classic Hollywood movies. In the 1980s, he began amassing a collection that eventually grew to include some 3,000 films.
"He loved movies, science fiction and cartoons," his son said. "People would come to him, and he'd loan them films."
Up until a week before his death, Dr. Bowers was still working on his collection and a computerized movie index, family members said.
Dr. Bowers, who was a self-taught piano player and liked writing short stories, also enjoyed entertaining family and friends with card tricks and puzzles.
He was a longtime member of the Bench Warmers, a group of friends who gathered to watch the old Colts on Sunday afternoons. He was an avid Ravens and Orioles fan.
Dr. Bowers was a longtime active member of St. Matthew's United Methodist Church, where he had served on the church's board of trustees, had chaired the finance committee, and prepared the weekly church bulletin and other publications. He was also a member of the Methodist Men.
Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at his church, 416 E. 23rd St. in Baltimore.
Also surviving are his high school sweetheart and wife of 52 years, the former Marjorie Jones; and two granddaughters.