Editor’s note: We often hear about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in numbers of cases and deaths. But each data point represents a human life whose loss is felt by countless other people. We are chronicling some of them in an obituary series called Lives Remembered. If you know someone who has died of COVID-19, please tell us about them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Lives Remembered,” or by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.
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Grace Episcopal Church’s Rev. Andrea Bowman was many things to many people.
The longtime Kittitas County resident was an educator, a school board member, a woman of God, a friend and colleague and much, much more. If she could have hand-picked a time to leave this world, Palm Sunday certainly would have been a special day, commemorating Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem where people put palm fronds down in front of his path.
The Rev. Bowman, 73, became the first Kittitas County resident to die from complications related to the virus that causes COVID-19. She died at 4:15 p.m. April 5, Palm Sunday, at the University of Washington ICU unit in Seattle.
Her time of death will be forever overshadowed by memories of the life she lived, longtime friend and former colleague Dr. Linda Beath said in a telephone interview from Tucson, Arizona.
“Andrea had a wicked sense of humor and a lot of joy in life,” Beath said. “I love to cook and bake. We were in a restaurant one time and I was talking about how she was never really enthused about really good food.
“She said, ‘Food is food, but good food is better.’ That became one of our old mantras when things got tough. It was like ‘food is food, but good food is better’ would lighten the moment.”
Born in Marysville, the Rev. Bowman moved to Ellensburg 28 years ago to teach at Central Washington University in the Education Department. That’s where she met Beath, who would become her close friend, colleague and, eventually, her power of attorney.
The Rev. Bowman’s interest in feminist spirituality led her to feminist theology, and she spent several summers studying liberation theology and cultural theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.
After conversations with Grace Church members and Bishop Jeff Terry, she pursued ordination to the priesthood. She continued her studies at Gonzaga University, earning a master’s degree in Religious Studies and obtained her Certificate of Anglican Studies at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, according to the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane website.
She was ordained as a deacon in August 2000 at Grace Church and was ordained as a priest in 2001. She served as vicar for the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Roslyn for eight years before retiring in 2011. When Grace Episcopal Church in Ellensburg began its search for a new vicar, she was asked to serve on an interim basis and had continued in that capacity since 2017.
“The Episcopal Diocese of Spokane joins with others in mourning the death of the Rev. Dr. Andrea Bowman. Andrea served faithfully as a priest in the diocese for many years, mostly in ‘retirement’ and in service to some of our smaller congregations,” Bishop Gretchen Rehberg said. “She had a gentle and generous spirit to all, was full of life and love to everyone, and offered her time without hesitation.
“She will be deeply missed. The clergy and people of the diocese look forward to the time when we can be together to celebrate her life and give thanks to God for her time with us.”
Members of the Grace Episcopal Church will remember the power of her sermons, yet the gentleness of her delivery, Bishop’s Warden Sandi Peck said.
“She’s been a blessing not only to our congregation, but the congregation in Roslyn,” Peck said. “She was a very, very giving person. She was definitely a people person and was a caring person.”
Church member James Quinn said, “Andrea has been uncommonly generous to our family since we moved here five years ago, and we will miss her very, very dearly.”
Beath recalls not only a kind and loving friend, but an organized one as well.
“She’s already written her obituary and left me very specific instructions of what to do (for her memorial) and I’m following those instructions to a T,” she said. “It’s a privilege to know she could trust me to do all this. Obviously, it’s not a good time to do it right now. But when the world returns to some normality, we’ll have her service at the Grace Episcopal Church in Ellensburg.
“But Andrea is with her Jesus and God and her spirit is still alive in all the people’s lives she impacted while she was with us.”
According to the Kittitas County Health Department release, the Rev. Bowman was tested for COVID-19 April 2 at the University of Washington Medical Center and positive results were returned the following day.
“Kittitas County has lost a well-respected and longtime resident of our county to complications related to the virus that causes COVID-19,” the release said. “Although this individual had been recently residing and receiving care outside of Kittitas County, this individual is loved by many who continue to reside here.”
“We are talking about people when we are talking about COVID-19 statistics,” Health Officer Dr. Mark Larson said. “We know this person had friends and loved ones, a strong religious community, and is missed by many.”
This story was originally published by the Ellensburg Daily Record. You can read it on their website here.