By Steve Robinson | July 26, 2013 - 10:42 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

Town of NormalNORMAL – The way Linda Bowman saw it, 35 years ago, she and her husband made the choice to live in Normal. On July 25, she reasoned, the Town chose them back.

When the announcement of Normal’s annual honor of “Citizen of the Year” was made at a ceremony on Thursday, July 25, Mrs. Bowman said she was genuinely surprised she and her husband had been named for the honor at The Corn Crib preceding the baseball game between the Normal CornBelters and the Frontier Greys.

With improvements made to Illinois State University, at one stretch during a deepening recession, Dr. Al Bowman spearheaded a drive for improvements to the campus while at the same time making sure the University watched its pocketbook.

His wife, Linda, spent her time serving as a full-time instructor in ISU’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and donating her time to charitable causes.

Mayor Chris Koos told the gathering that choosing the Town’s Citizen of the Year “is actually a hard decision to make every year because that citizen exemplifies the volunteerism, the dedication to the community, the hard work that they do in the community, and what special members of the community they are and the great work that they do for us.”

When Koos announced the names of the latest residents to receive the honor, a number of the 300 invited guests at the event let out audible approval followed by a standing ovation from those attending the gathering.

Among Mrs. Bowman’s many charitable endeavors have been involvement with the American Red Cross, YWCA, Normal History Club, and the Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation Board.

Dr. Bowman served as interim President of the University for one year before being named ISU’s 17th President in March 2004. Koos credited Bowman’s leadership for the University winding up on the list of “first choice universities,” as selected by U. S. News & World Report Magazine, as well as high marks for the University in freshmen ACT scores and graduation rates.

“Al and Linda’s positive influence on the community began long ago, before they became president and first lady of Illinois State University,” Koos told the gathering. “Both have active and engaged members of the community for over 35 years. Both Linda and Al Bowman have played an instrumental role in the success of Normal, Bloomington, and McLean County.”

“We are extremely fortunate to have the continued support and involvement of Linda and Al Bowman in our community,” Koos told those assembled. “They have and will continue to be important assets to our community, and I’m honored to name them citizens of the year.”

Dr. Bowman stepped down in May from a 35-year teaching career, including the last nine as ISU President. He told the gathering, “This is really an honor. It’s been a privilege to have been part of this community for 35 years. I’ve never regretted one day of deciding to come to Illinois State University. Linda and I have enjoyed every day of this journey.”

Following the ceremony, Mrs. Bowman said she had no idea about the honor until she heard Koos speak her name. “I’m thrilled and honored beyond measure,” she said of the accolade the couple received. ”To have the leaders of this town say to us that they view us as leaders ourselves and that we’re important to the town, it’s a tremendous honor.”

“I was shocked,” Dr. Bowman said of the honor. “I had no idea this was going to happen. In my opinion, the award is for the campus, not for me. The campus has made incredible progress and I think my presidency gets a lot of credit for it. But the real credit goes to the students, faculty, and staff that have done all the hard work to get us where we are.”

Mrs. Bowman said she graduated from ISU in 1979, and aside from a teaching job in Gibson City after graduation, has lived and worked in Normal. “We chose this community,” Linda Bowman said. And now, with receiving this award, she said, “Normal has chosen us.”

Numerous local dignitaries such as State Rep. Dan Brady (R-105th), Rep. Keith Sommer (R-88th), Bloomington City Council member Judy Stearns, former Normal Mayor Paul Harmon, and former Normal Town Council member Adam Nielsen, were on hand for the event, as were members of the Normal Town Council.

The Town began giving out “Citizen of the Year” honors in 1957, and has done so annually with the exception of 1974 when no award was given out. The Bowmans are just the third couple to receive the honor. Arthur and Faith Larsen received the honor in 1983, and Paul and Sandra Harmon received the honor in 1993.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 26th, 2013 at 10:42 pm and is filed under Normal Town Council, The Normalite. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.