Donald N. ‘Opa’ Bowdle
Jan 01, 2014 | 1374 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Donald N. “Opa” Bowdle, 78, saw the Lord he loved so well “face to face” on Monday morning, Dec. 30, 2013.

He was the son of the late Katherine (Kline) and Nelson Bowdle. His first wife, Nancy G. Bowdle, preceded him in death.

He was a graduate of Easton High School, Easton, Md. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Lee University; his master’s and Ph.D. from Bob Jones University; his master’s of theology from Princeton Theological Seminary; and his doctorate of theology from Union Theological Seminary. He also served as a visiting lecturer at Han Young Theological University in South Korea. He was awarded two post-doctoral fellowships from Yale University and The University of Edinburgh.

In December, he taught his final class at Lee University, retiring after almost 52 years of service as a distinguished professor of history and religion and a senior adjunct professor.

He authored several books and edited and contributed to many others.

He loved to read and served as a book reviewer for the Richmond (VA) Times. He also wrote more than 250 articles and book reviews. He received the Distinguished Faculty Educator Award from the Church of God; the Excellence in Teaching Award and Excellence in Scholarship Award from Lee University, and more recently was honored as the first recipient of the School of Religion Distinguished Alumni. He also had a Lee University dormitory named for him and received numerous other recognitions and awards.

He was an avid Baltimore Orioles baseball fan; an avid traveler (visiting 44 countries); and won every family game of Scrabble. He was a member of Westmore Church of God.

Survivors include his wife, Jean E. Bowdle of Cleveland; daughters: Karen Bowdle LaBelle and husband, Dr. Shawn LaBelle, of Greenville, S.C., and Dr. Dianna Puhr and husband, Dr. Josh Puhr, of Johnson City; son, Dr. Keven Bowdle and wife, Karen Kelley Bowdle, of Knoxville; grandchildren: Garrett and Jackson Bowdle, Noah, Summer and Asa LaBelle, Jacoby and Mathias Puhr, and Bethany Cooleyof Monteagle; great-grandchildren: Annabelle and McKinley Kirkland; mother-in-law, Mildred P. Eversole of Wytheville, Va.; and brother- and sister-in-law, Doug and Peggy Brown, of Troutville, Va.

The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m., today at the Lee University Chapel.

The Remembrance of Life service will be held Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, at 11 a.m. at the Lee University Chapel with Dr. Paul Conn, the Rev. Wendell Smith and the Rev. Jimmy Harper officiating.

Because Dr. Bowdle has friends, colleagues, former students and friends across the globe, Lee University is live-streaming the service on its website,

Interment will follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens with Bob Bayles, Andy Blackmon, Jerome Boone, Terry Cross, Jerald Daffe, Skip Jenkins, Rickie Moore and Bill Simmons serving as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearer will be Ollie Lee and Jim Bibo.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to the Donald N. Bowdle Scholarship, in care of Office of University Relations, P.O. Box 3450, Cleveland, TN 37320-3450.

The North Ocoee Chapel of Jim Rush Funeral Homes has charge of the arrangements.

You may share your condolences and memories with the Bowdle family at