Leslie John Bowen, 60, of Concord, passed away on Nov. 4, 2012, at his home surrounded by his loved ones, following a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.
Bowen was the beloved husband of 32 years of Carol (Whiting) Bowen and the loving father of Stephanie and Kimberly Bowen. Born in Nantwich, England, on July 16, 1952, he was the son of the late William John Bowen and May (Williamson) Bowen.
Bowen attended Leeds University in Leeds, England, earning a bachelor of science in 1973 and a PhD in materials science and ceramics in 1977. Later that year, he began postdoctoral research at the Materials Research Laboratory at Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pa., contributing to the development of piezocomposite materials and other acoustic transducer technologies.
It was at Penn State that Bowen met his wife Carol, a PhD student at the time. Following their marriage in 1980, the Bowens moved to Massachusetts, eventually settling in Concord in 1982. From 1980 to 1991, Les worked at GTE Laboratories in Waltham, Mass., where his research focused on electronic ceramics and devices. In 1984, he became manager of ceramics R&D, overseeing research into structural and optical ceramics.
In 1991, Bowen left GTE to found Material Systems Inc., a high-technology manufacturing company with 40 employees in Littleton, Mass., which develops and manufactures subsystems, components, and advanced materials for defense and commercial systems customers.
Bowen held numerous United States and foreign patents and he coauthored over 30 publications in the materials, science, and business fields
Bowen believed passionately in the value and power of small business, and was proud of his role as an entrepreneur and small business advocate. He was a leader in the small business community both in New England as well as nationally as a long-time member of the Smaller Business Association of New England (SBANE) and the National Small Business Association (NSBA) boards of directors. He relished working with other small business owners and never hesitated to help them, providing resources, valuable counsel and guidance wherever he could. Additionally, he frequently worked with congressional leaders in Washington, providing information, guidance and advocacy on issues impacting small businesses, and was appointed to the President’s Export Council Subcommittee on Export Administration.
Bowen received numerous awards in his career, but was particularly proud of receiving The American Ceramic Society’s F.H. Norton Award in 1998, being named the NSBA’s Champion of Small Business Innovation in February 2012, receiving the Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems Freedom Award in May 2012, and being the first recipient of SBANE’s Herbert L. Spivack Entrepreneurial Excellence Award in October, 2012. Bowen was named a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society in 2008.
Outside of work, Bowen loved playing golf, hiking, camping, swimming, as well as building, fixing, and repairing things, and teaching these skills to his daughters of whom he was so proud. He was also curious about the world, and traveled frequently with his family to places as far-reaching as Australia, Japan, South America, and Eastern Europe. By the time he passed away, he had been to 49 of the 50 states in the US. He also loved spending time with Carol in Sarasota, Fla., at their home there, and taking long walks along the beach.
Bowen was a truly unique man who inspired everyone he met. His intrepid spirit, keen insight, warm and approachable manner, sense of humor, and thoughtful outlook on life will be sorely missed by all the people and communities he touched.
Bowen is survived by two sisters, including Christine Gilchrist of Crewe, Cheshire, England, many loving nieces and nephews, grandnieces and nephews, and mother-, sister- and brothers-in-law.
A funeral service and celebration of his life was held on Sunday, November 11th at Trinity Episcopal Church in Concord, Mass.
Contributions in his memory may be made to either of two causes that were very close to his heart: the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Research Fund at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center or to Emerson Hospital, Concord, Mass.