Dan Leslie Bowden (1929-2018)

Personal Tributes to Mr. Bowden

Dan Leslie Bowden inspired decades of future leaders with his impromptu poetry recitations, dynamic lectures, love for language and devotion to students. Share your reflections here:
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  • Ted Fleron
    I first met Dan Bowden in the fall of 1958, when I enrolled at Ransom for my senior year. When I arrived at Mr. Bowden's classroom for the first time, I quickly realized that I was in for a very wonderful and challenging experience. Over the years since my graduation, I have reminded myself many times of the very significant role that Ransom and Dan Bowden in particular played in my educational development. Along with the entire RE community, I am saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. Bowden. We should all take great pride and joy that he gave so much to the education of so many students.
  • Tom Kelly
    RIP, Mr. Bowden! Although I never took your classes (I did not relish the prospect of your prodigious ire being directed at this thick-headed student of poetry and lit-RA-ture) you definitely knew who I was, and I always appreciated your real interest in my education and me as a person.
  • Tania Dominguez
    Mr. Bowden was anything but pedestrian, a word he frequently liked to use when commenting on our English papers. His sharp intellect, humor and flare for the dramatic were legendary, but mostly I remember him for his humanity and compassion. I will always be grateful for the time we shared the last few months of his life. Mr. Bowden, you are forever in my heart. Now go ride your wild horse into the sun!
  • Richard Gelernter
    Mr.Bowden I got the news That someone died- A rather exceptional man- A teacher from my youth Who left an indelible Impression. He spent sixty some-odd years At the same school- His name was synonymous With the place. I painted his portrait Many years ago, And it hangs in the library That bears his name. (Glad I did that.) This fellow had a wonderfully Outrageous personality Punctuated by A cultured Southern accent And a biting wit. He never married Or had children of his own, But he left behind A thousand friends, All of whose names He remembered- First, last and middle. Although he was old And I knew he was sick, Like everyone else I thought of him as permanent. His was one of those passing’s That highlight The inexorable nature Of fleeting time. I’m sharing his memory As I write this With everyone Who ever knew him, And I cry a little bit Inside. RG 2018
  • Fred Baisden
    I will remember him always as the best, the most inspirational, and the most challenging of all.
  • Barbara Levy
    Even grandparents Were fortunate enough to attend Special classes & be touched by the brilliance that was Dan Bowden-- Barbara Wexner Levy (Grandmother of Rama Hughes & Lali Hughes Shaw)
  • Lauren Keith - Katz
    Mr. Bowden was one of the most influential teachers in my Ransom Everglades years. He was so kind, intelligent and encouraging, he inspired me to give my all and to strive for more. I won an award that year and he called my Mom to arrange that I be there at the awards ceremony. That surprise is just one incident of many, that I will hold dear for the rest of my life. RIP Mr. Bowden, until we meet again.
  • Jim Ryder
    I am saddened about Mr. Bowden's passing. His energy projected a much longer life. I first attended his classes at the beginning of 9th grade, in the fall of 1954. I completed his English classes for grades 9, 10, 11 and 12. One never knew what to expect. We might review the day's assigned lessons, or perhaps a pop quiz. Or, he might feel like quoting Shakespeare off the top of his head, while leaning out the classroom door, talking to us or to the trees. Always a delight to know and share stories with. At Ransom for Boys, as it was called then, Mr. Bowden and others warned us abut the dreaded Freshman English classes we would face in college. He was pleased to learn that at UNC, I did well enough on the entrance test that I skipped Freshman English! All thanks to him! He shall be missed. Rest in Peace, Mr. Bowden!
  • Derrick Beare
    Very sad to hear the news about Mr Bowden. I came to Ransom in 1975 from SA and had a tough time adjusting to Miami and a new country. I struggled academically and Mr Bowden took a liking to me despite my deficiencies. He assured my mother I would be OK and helped me through my years at Ransom. We had a special relationship that I'm sure he had with many students over the years. He was a great asset to the school and I'm sure he will be missed by all those who knew him. Sending my best wishes to his family.
  • Jeri Wolfson
    The heavens have a bright and shining new star. To my Ransom Everglades family I send you hugs. Dan Bowden has been a treasure to all of us who had the good fortune to know him. He will always be the heart and soul of Ransom Everglades.
  • Roger Soman
    What an uplifting, positive spirit. Mr. Bowden will be missed by all who knew the man, and seemingly for the SAME REASON; he was colorful, committed, interesting and interested. He was a positive influence. How many other people do we know who was so universally loved?
  • Jaymie Meyers
    Dan was a super nova and then some! How blessed we all are to have known him.
  • David Gardner
    As I sit here reflecting all the years I knew Dan it makes me sad he is gone. How many times since I was 24 years old did Dan snag me in the advancement office with his stories. I remember not having any time to listen but, never once did I let on or leave until he was done. They were almost always good stories and I had such respect for him. I cannot begin to express the impact he had on me in those early years of my personal growth.
  • Sabina Frank-Holtzman
    I am saddened by the loss of an amazing teacher. Such an incredible larger than life person who made everyone smile! I will miss him!
  • Astrid Dalins
    My first personal and up close encounter with Mr. Dan Leslie Bowden was in fall 1995 during my first few months at Ransom. I had heard of him, and seen him, but never ventured to introduce myself. I felt that would have to wait until I had put in some time and had something of merit to bring to the table. So when the art room door flung open with a crash and there he stood, I was honored,amazed and perplexed that the legend had come to me. He shouted at me (red faced and fuming) about who did I think I was that I would be so bold and rude to block in his car. I was so utterly distressed, that I responded with profuse regret, tearfully throwing myself to the mercy of the court (I had accidentally forgotten to move after bringing in some shopping) that his entire visage changed in a second. I think that we both realized our mutual capacities for outrageous over-reaction. After that day, he never failed to hail me by my entire name, embellished with endearments and accolades. He always made me feel that I had won the lottery. Reading everyone's recollections, I suddenly realized the magic of knowing Dan Leslie Bowden was that he made each and everyone of us always feel like we had won the lottery over and over again.
  • Nicolas Monocandilos
    Passion is a word you see thrown around in recent years at every opportunity, usually inappropriately. In Mr. Bowden's case, I cannot think of a better word to describe his approach to life. Most memorable of all, was his passion for language and literature as expressions of our experiences in this world as humans. His steadfast dedication to excellence, truth and kindness earned him the respect and love of generations of students. I'll never forget his intellect, his wit, his smile, his unique voice or piercing gaze. In his midst, you were in the presence of greatness. As a teacher, his lessons always held a grand meaning applicable to life beyond the classroom. Poems like "The Red Wheelbarrow" and "The Naked and the Nude" pushed us to see beyond the superficial and reflect on the truth both of what we see before us and within ourselves. He sought to shape both our hearts and our minds and help us become better people than we were before stepping into his classroom. Thank you, Mr. Bowden.
  • Lourdes Geller
    Rest in Peace Mr. Bowden! How fortunate were those whose lives you touched, including our kids'....We are certainly going to miss you! The Geller Family
  • Rupal Shukla
    RIP Mr. Bowden!! Peace, LOve and Light! ?????
  • Sheri Levine
    As many others have also mentioned, I was also given a nickname by Mr. Bowden...Thelma! I am not sure how he arrived at this but it was the only name he ever called me even after I left Ransom and saw him over the years. In my 20s when I was living in NYC, we would go to the theater together whenever he was in NY and we were once in London at the same time and went to the Chelsea Flower Show together. He would always introduce me as Thelma and it always made me smile. He was that rare teacher who sticks with you forever...certain poems can only be heard in his voice and for this and many other reasons he will remain with all of us forever. Thank you Mr. Bowden for everything you taught us and gave us!
  • James McGhee II
    Mr. Bowden had a sharp sense of humor and a great appreciation for truth and beauty, in words, and in people. I was privileged to take Mr. Bowden’s course on Comedy, which included “The Importance of Being Earnest”, “The Misanthrope”, and “The Playboy of the Western World”. Mr. Bowden’s passion for the material made the plays and their authors come alive. He once told me, “This is my life, as a teacher, to look in your eyes and see I have connected with you.” If the world truly is a stage, Mr. Bowden played his part with emotion, honesty and love, and we were lucky to be in the cast with him.
  • Joy Shokes
    My mother’s uncle,my great Uncle Dan. There are memories and stories. Oh, how my mom loved her Uncle Dan. His voice will never be forgotten. I loved hearing him talk to my mom during holiday visits to County Line road. I had the privilege of having my mother as my English teacher. So you know she was impacted by him. As I was reading the beautiful words put forth by Ransom I ran to the book shelf for my copy of poems by Emily Dickinson. I knew, as I read a poem to mom, in my best Uncle Dan voice,that surely the love for fine literature was part of a lovely legacy!! You will be missed. Thank you for laughing with my mom. We will miss you!
  • Mike Cochran
    RIP Mr. Bowden, an indispensable civilizing influence on teenage males run amok in late 70s Miami.
  • Kimberly Mathis
    Mr Bowden words can not describe how you were a truly delightful presence in so many lives. Rest in peace. Love Chinaberry
  • Rama Hughes
    As a teacher myself now, I appreciate Dan Bowdan as the personification of a popular aphorism: “Children may not remember what you’ve taught them, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” My most treasured memory of Mr. Bowdan is how he held my wrist while he spoke to other students. That firm grip communicated everything, “You are important to me. I will not let you go until we speak.” The glorious thing is that he made most of his students - maybe even all of us? - feel this way.
  • Jonathan Ross
    “Well Helllooooo Mista Ross!” This was Dan Bowden’s regular greeting to me which I always found so other worldly but appreciated since what adult shows that kind of respect to a 15, 16, 17-year old?! Dan Bowden was larger than life, for me a live embodiment of a Southern Gothic character straight out of a Tennessee Williams work. He had a significant and lasting impact on my enduring love for literature and the spoken word, as I'm sure he had on so many who came before and after me at RE. I can still hear that singular voice in my head. I will miss him.
  • Paige Bressler
    He was both my English teacher and my Dad's teacher and friend when he attended Ransom School for Boys. I have fond memories of Mr.Bowden strolling through campus singing at the top of his lungs. His poetry class was one of my favorites. He will always be an icon of the RE community.
  • Eugene Williams
    He was a legendary figure in my life...an excellent teacher...He and my late mother adored each other...As an educator,I borrowed much of my instructional style from him!
  • Ana María Szolodko
    When I was first hired to teach at RE (now 16 years ago), one of my first and most memorable experiences at the school was meeting Dan Leslie Bowden. His exclamations of joy upon seeing me, “Oh come here you wonderful creature!” would make my month. That smooth, velvety drawl filled the space and the remarkable way he recited the genealogies and family connections of the children and grandchildren of alums he’d taught was nothing short of remarkable. Those Christmas readings ushered in every Christmas season for countless RE community members. He could be incredibly kind, also. He made a point of sharing kind words with so many. I truly believe Ransom has lost one of the most important touchstones to its past and one of its most memorable people. My prayers go to his family and to all those who knew him and loved him.
  • Jim Young
    Dan always had advice or opinions for me and many times, as Headmaster, they were helpful and useful. Dan was certainly a special person.
  • James Beverley
    I first met Dan Bowden in 1955 during my second year at Ransom, a first former 6th grade. I was young and dumb and was quite put off by this frenetic force of nature. He became the most important influence,role model,counselor over the next 60 years in and out of academia. "Jimmie Beverley you have no right to bore the children in your classes!"
  • Lucas Diaz
    Before starting class material, Mr Bowden used to read aloud our athletic accolades from the previous day in the Miami Herald. He was always so proud of us if we were mentioned! Once, he read so many clips about us in the paper that the bell rang and class was over! He quickly stared at the speaker/bell in discontent. My fondest memory is a conversation during class we had when he told me he was "mad at me" (can't recall why) and before he could explain I told him, "Well, I'm not perfect." after which he went on a long narrative about how genius my statement was... and then the bell rang... RIP Mr Bowden. May God bless your soul.
  • James Beverley
    I first met Dan Bowden in the Fall of 1955, my second year at the school. I was somewhat put off,as a young ,dumb adolescent,by this intense force of nature. He was huge part of my life ,especially as an educator but in so many other ways, for more than 60 years. Go well Dan Leslie Bowden, we shall not see your kind pass this way again.Thanks...Jimmie B to you.
  • Ira Warshaw
    I started at Ransom in 1963 as a 9th grade student, and needless to say, Dan Bowden was already a legend on campus. I always enjoyed my time in his English class (actually, sometimes terrified), that as with all of his students, came to love him. As with many of us, I can still do Macbeth's and Hamlet's soliloquies... In the years following graduation, my getting married, having kids, wandering around the Grove, running into Dan Bowden when I was then in my 40s, and hearing his often mimicked booming voice "Ira Warshaw, of all people"! I was thrilled to be able to attend his 87th birthday celebration in 2016, and again to be able to sit and chat with him at my 50th reunion in 2017. His legacy impacted multiple generations, and his presence will be missed.
  • Myriam Gollan
    Mr. Bowden was timeless but a witness of our changing times. When he spoke to you, you felt like the center of his world. A genuine human being and a classic, Mr. Bowden was courtly, graceful and yet very down-to-earth. I am grateful for the few years in which he intersected in my life. May your soul soar the heights of the celestial, Mr. Bowden. As we cherish memories of you, remember us in yours.
  • Trey Mourning
    I never had the pleasure to learn from Mr. Bowden in the classroom, but took so much from him in our brief time together. I have nothing but kind words to say about the man. I’m deeply saddened to hear of his passing, but so glad that I knew him. May he Rest In Peace.
  • Monique Regis
    Mr. Dan Leslie Bowden "What a man what a man" Remembering the laughs we shared riding in the car from doctor's appointments to the Palace singing Jennifer Holiday's song "And I Am Telling You" and Patty Labelle's "You Are my Friend." What a great voice! Yes, Mr. Dan Leslie Bowden, thank you for being my good friend forever. RIP Love Monique Regis
  • Jon Engle
    As 10th grade Ransom students, we all looked forward to having Mr. Bowden’s 11th grade English class. One might think the opposite knowing that his classes meant long, long hours of homework, demanding times in class and God-save-you moments if you didn’t know the correct answer. Perhaps it was the challenge, perhaps it was words from older students of the inspiration, the insights and knowledge to be gained. Who of us from those long-past days can remember the whys but this was the class (along with Mr. deCarlo’s also demanding class) that we all looked forward to. And yes, these classes lived up to all their expectations: where else would one find 15 year old boys quoting Shakespeare in their spare hours or making sure to use all 27 words of that week’s vocabulary words in their daily conversations, and do so in all seriousness. These were the classes that we learned much about the merits of hard work, where few, if any of us escaped the Bowden fires for a job ill done; where a love of literature was instilled in us and those boring homework books became exciting works of art (okay, maybe not Ethan Fromm. I still fall asleep at the mere mention of that one!); and our dull adolescent minds were stretched to embrace the depths of humanity. So thank you, Dan Bowden for those years as your student. You have left your mark on us all. And while I wish you peace and happiness in the Beyond, little would I doubt it if I were told that those heavenly denizens have already set up their desks and tables in a fond awaiting of your lectures, your reading, your sage insights and the joy that you always had to offer.
  • Eric Buermann
    Dan entered my life in 1956 when my older brother entered Ransom’s then- 5th grade. He had recently arrived to teach at the school, and it wasn’t long before he had adopted the school as his family. Over the many years he was not only an outstanding educator, but a dear friend, mentor, and advisor, as he was to so many of us. He is now in God’s loving hands. He was truly a very special person, and we will miss him greatly.
  • Tom Snow
    Having transferred from a New England boarding school for my senior year I was delighted to see that Tennessee Williams had a twin brother heading up the English department at Ransom. Dan was the quintessential Southern Gentleman-courtly, cultured and witty. I studied under him only a year but I’ve never forgotten his class. A great educator and marvelous human. Ave atque vale, Mr. Bowden!
  • Lily Smuglovsky-Gonzalez
    I met Mr. Bowden during our daughters' middle school and high school years at Ransom. Although he never taught them, he embraced our family when we moved our parents into the assisted living facility where he resided. To him, they were Ransom Family and often sat with mom for lunch and shared stories. He also enjoyed my dad's empanadas-made for residents and friends. I usually found Mr. Bowden, wearing his iconic Ransom scarf, sitting in the lobby talking to other residents while waiting for one of his former students or colleagues to take him on a lunch outing or to the school. He always took time to say hello, ask about my daughters, and share a funny story. Dan Bowden will truly be missed.
  • Bruce Kaplan
    Talk about larger than life! I was fortunate to have Mr. Bowden as a teacher and advisor during my senior year at Ransom. My most vivid memory was when he busted me for exchanging a note with a classmate, a castigation I carry with me 45 years later. His enthusiasm for an essay I wrote on "Riders to the Sea" was, on the other hand, a source of pride, particularly since he reminded me of it nearly every time I saw him after graduation. I last saw him about 2 years ago at the Bagel Emporium. He was leaving the restaurant, hobbled and with a cane, but in full voice. He held court for my mother and me (and the rest of the restaurant) just as he had in English class so many years before. Timeless, and will remain so.
  • Charles Sands
    A Titan has departed. Dan was my teacher and friend for over six decades. My entire family has lost a dear friend.
  • Horacio Yrausquin
    A wonderful being, teacher, mentor, to many young minds, and a kind heart. To say he will be missed does not express the depth and breadth of his influence to we who were under his tutelage.
  • Marisa Phirangee
    I am so sad to hear of this news. Mr. Bowden was such an iconic pillar at Ransom Everglades and he will truly be missed. His Christmas reading was always such a joy.
  • John Walton
    Music and Dan Bowden are the two major influences which kept me sane; the one my hope in humanity, the other honed the wherewithal to express myself [and thoroughly enjoy Patrick O’Brian], or something like that. Yours, Dan, happens to be one of the few sounds of laughter which is embedded in my memory and harps in sporadically, spicing my life. Thanks! I hear you calling after my mom. She too passed on. Chappo, Dan! R.I.P.
  • Scott Zahler
    Mr. Bowden was a personal inspiration and had a profound influence on my life, educational and career path. I've never known someone with such passion, intellectual curiosity, conviction and empathy. He sparked those qualities in me. He was a treasure to all those who had the opportunity to learn from him and be in his orbit. You will be missed and forever remembered.
  • David Skipp
    Our love for Dan Bowden and our collective memory of him will continue to provide the thread that connects us to each other and to Ransom. He is immortal
  • Danielle Benjamin
    May God keep you always, Mr. Bowden. Thank you for the wonderful spirit you brought to the Ransom campus.
  • Andrew Strauss
    A wonderful life well spent. Thank you for the beautiful tribute. The photos take me back 45 years. The pain of adolescence punctuated by the poetry of Mr Bowden.
  • Heidi Tandy
    So sad to hear the news this morning; I was lucky enough to be in Mr Bowden's AP English class, and profoundly, transmogrifyingly lucky to go on Mr. Bowden's London trip during my senior year at Ransom; we spent about a week in London going to theater daily, and exploring the city - and, for one evening, Chester too. We walked the city - which, for many of us was our first taste of some independence outside of Miami - and saw play after play. Mr. Bowden wasn't as much of a fan of musicals as some of us on the trip so instead of seeing things like Cats or Phantom, we went to the Teddy Bears' Picnic and the Barbican. Going on this adventure with him was an insight into his skill at being a teacher all the time. Everything we saw and talked about was an education, an experience, and a moment that has stayed with me for over thirty years. When my eldest started at Ransom six years ago, we saw Mr Bowden on campus regularly, and he always had a memory to share about our class or trip, and some new news about the school. What a loss for Ransom and Miami, and what a treasure for us that he impacted all our lives.
  • Joan Lutton
    Although I did not have Dan as a teacher, two of my children were privileged to have him. I taught English myself for 18 years and was in awe of Dan’s intellect and talent. How fortunate his many students were to have him. We will not see his like again
  • Adrienne Becker
    This is a wonderful tribute collection - thank you RE for spreading Mr. Bowden's heart, mind and spirit to the satellites of curiosity he helped spread. He's a gift that will keep on giving through all of us. We can honor him in no less of a way.
  • Mongin Brumby
    No man other than my father had more impact on me than Dan Leslie Bowden. No one was harder on me as a young, immature student than he. Mr. Bowden demanded your absolute best effort in every endeavor no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. I have always treasured my time under his tutelage, and my time as his friend. I will miss him...
  • Alejandro Luis
    To this day I recall introducing myself to Mr. Bowden on my first day of his class. "Alex Luis", I said, as we introduced ourselves. "That is not your name", he said, it is "Alejandro Luis!", with an emphatic yell that could be heard across the grove, and his hand reaching to the sky. Mr. Bowden taught me introspection, self-respect, and the discipline of hard work. I regret I was never able to go back and visit him prior to his passing. He'll never know the fire he lit inside me. May he rest in peace.
  • Chris Cavanaugh
    So sad to see the news of Mr. Bowden passing! I met him as a 10 year old when my father became the swim and water polo coach, as well as Geometry teacher at Ransom. Those early days of my life were fun with Mr. Stokes, Mr. Parrish, and many other teachers, some who lived at the school (in those days). Mr. Bowden was a young man then! Well, he was always interesting and I enjoyed that he was always with a smile, but also clever, devious, and serious as well. He loved his role with the students. I am sad to have missed him on his trek to the SF Bay Area the past few years and now, more so. Thanks for sharing and inspiring so many Mr. Bowden! Chris Cavanaugh Two-Time USA Swimming Olympian, Gold Medalist, and constant learner because of my time at Ransom with teachers like you and so many other dedicated and competent instructors/teachers/leaders.
  • Leslie Cassel
    Rest In Peace, Mr. Bowden.
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
Middle School2045 South Bayshore DriveTel: 305-250-6850
Upper School3575 Main HighwayTel: 305-460-8800
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The mission of Ransom Everglades School is to provide an educational environment in which the pursuit of honor, academic excellence and intellectual growth is complemented by concern for the physical, cultural and character development of each student. The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.