Family members of legendary football coach Bobby Bowden are currently at Jefferson Memorial Gardens in Trussville, Alabama, preparing to lay their beloved husband, father and grandfather to rest next to his mother and father today (Aug. 16).
The private family service and burial started at 11 a.m. with the family’s former pastor at First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida, Doug Dortch, current pastor of Mountain Brook Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, officiating. Also planning to share with the family is NFL standout Deion Sanders, who played under Bowden at Florida State University and currently serves as head football coach at Jackson State University in Mississippi.
Sanders is one of many players who is a man of faith because of his relationship with Bobby Bowden, said, Bowden’s son, Terry, during a media interview prior to the visitation service at Samford University in Birmingham yesterday (Aug. 15).
Terry Bowden, who currently serves as the head football coach at University of Louisiana at Monroe, is a former Samford football coach like his father.
Close ties to Baptist school
Bobby Bowden served as head coach of the Bulldogs from 1959 to 1962 with a record of 31–6 and was quarterback for the team during his college days. As a quarterback, Bowden earned Little All-America honors as a senior in 1952.
And while the name Bobby Bowden is synonymous with Florida State University, his and Ann’s most intimate connections are with their hometown of Birmingham and with Howard College/Samford University, Terry Bowden shared.
Ann, Terry and the entire Bowden family gathered at Reid Chapel on campus for a public visitation from 4 to 6 p.m. An estimate 1,500 people attended the visitation.
“We express our thanks to Samford University for allowing us to have my father lie in wait before being buried next to his mother and father tomorrow in Trussville,” Terry Bowden said. “We are thankful he could rest here until then.”
Samford President Beck Taylor noted, “The Samford community was honored to host the Bowden family and hundreds of others whose lives were deeply impacted by knowing Coach Bowden.
“Bobby Bowden … is known as a faithful friend of Birmingham and Samford University. The family expressed their deepest gratitude to Samford and all those who attended the service. It was a meaningful time for all.”
Terry Bowden added that his mother was excited to be back in Birmingham where they grew up.
“This has been our family school … our home,” he said. “It’s where we grew up … and where we saw our first football games.”
Faith first, then football
Sharing during the Aug. 14 Celebration of Life service in Tallahassee and again with the media in Birmingham, Terry Bowden focused on his father’s faith first philosophy.
“He will always be known as a football coach but more importantly he was a strong Christian and he felt the responsibility to share his faith and his testimony. … He taught us that we all have the opportunity to make ourselves to available. Football can be a priority but it cannot be the priority.
“He served the Lord through football and began with his college days here at Samford.”
Along with being raised in a Christian home, the Bowden children were taught the importance of an active church life, Terry Bowden explained, noting they were raised in Southern Baptist churches and even helped plant a Southern Baptist church in West Virginia (Calvary Baptist Church in Morgantown) while serving the university there.
“And as a football coach, we learned there is a right way and a wrong way to win football games. … The way in which you coach football, how to play with class … we learned that by great example.
“Faith, family, education and football, that’s the way we’ve been taught. Being Southern Baptist was so much a part of our faith and our coaching.”