By Susan Resko

Josselyn was truly blessed when Dr. Gil Bowen became an Honorary Trustee.

Even as he entered his ninth decade on Earth, he continued to support the work of Josselyn. Rev. Dr. Gilbert W. Bowen, 91, of Evanston, formerly of Kenilworth and Muskegon, MI, passed away peacefully on June 5th, 2023.

Dr. Bowen served as the Senior Minister of the Kenilworth Union Church for 37 years and as Minister Emeritus upon his retirement in 2007.

Kathy Piepgras, then Josselyn’s Development Director, and later board member and trustee, approach Dr. Bowen about the need at Josselyn.  They came up with an idea called “Secret Santa” where Josselyn clinicians would discretely ask their client about their needs, such as a new set of bedsheets, or a bus pass to allow them to access therapy.  Gil would then pass along these needs to his congregants who would purchase these gifts for Josselyn clients.  This was Josselyn’s Secret Santa program that went on for years a generation ago.  Dr. Bowen was asked to become an Honorary Trustee for his commitment to Josselyn clients.

Upon Dr. Bowen’s retirement, an endowment fund was raised from the congregation in his, and his wife Marlene’s honor.  Gil and Marlene had discretion over the disbursement of the income generated from this endowment, and each year, they faithfully and very generously supported Josselyn.

My husband and I joined Kenilworth Union Church in 1995, because we had heard so many wonderful things about Dr. Bowen from our friends.  It was often said that listening to his sermons was like therapy.  His words were filled with gentle and helpful inspirations of perseverance, pursuing dreams, building up, not down, the power of giving and listening for God’s message in everyday things. He would often remind his congregants on the lessons of Charlie Brown, and end his message with a simple, “think about it.”

Coincidentally, or by divine intervention, it was Dr. Bowen who first referred me to Josselyn when I was seeking help for my son in 2002.  This journey to find treatment for my son led me to a 2nd career in mental health advocacy and support and eventually back to Josselyn in 2015.  Dr. Bowen’s support of Josselyn served as an endorsement for me and it was one of the reasons I decided to accept the position of President at Josselyn.

Josselyn extends our sincere condolences to Bob and Kathy Irvin, Mark Bowen and Margot Stone Bowen, and Steve Bowen and Marnie Petrie Bowen upon the death of their father, The Reverend Dr. Gilbert W. Bowen.  As with so many other people, and organizations, Dr. Bowen had a profound impact on Josselyn clients.

Maybe instead of expecting gifts from Santa Claus, we should give gifts as Santa Claus did.  Think about it. [i]

–Rev. Dr. Gilbert W. Bowen

[i] Bowen, G.W. (2007). Is Santa Claus Real?  Think About It, Dr. Gilbert W. Bowen’s Sermonettes, p. 35. Kenilworth Union Church.

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