- George R. "Ray"
George R. "Ray" Bowman, of the Town of Tonawanda, died of natural causes, Friday, October 19 in the GreenFields nursing home. He was 95. Ray was born in Buffalo on April 5, 1923. Raised in the Old First Ward and proud of his Irish roots, he graduated from St. Brigid's School in 1937 and Canisius High School, with honors, in 1941, working in the high school's cafeteria to help pay tuition. His father, a "Scooper" on grain boats, once raffled off a radio at a local tavern to assist with his son's school fees. In 1942, Ray was hired as a clerk, by Martin Fireproofing Corp. Except for time served in the armed forces during WWII, Ray worked for the commercial roof decking company, until his retirement in 1989, holding the post of Office Manager for most of those years. In April of 1943, Ray entered active military service in the Army Air Corps. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and served as a Navigator on B-17 Bombers, flying out of Sudbury, England, for the 8th Air Force 486th Bombardment Group. He was honorably discharged in September, 1945, having earned the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. On August 9, 1947, Ray married his longtime sweetheart, Grace G. Gibbons, whom he met when he was 16 and she was 14. They were married just over 65 years, when Grace passed away in 2012. In 1961, Ray and Grace purchased a home in the Town of Tonawanda, near St. Amelia's R. C. Church, where he was active in many Catholic lay organizations. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and over the years was a trustee of the parish, a member of the parish council, longtime parish coordinator of Eucharistic Ministers and served on numerous committees. Ray served as President of the St. Amelia's Holy Name Society, the Diocesan Holy Name Society, the St. Amelia Society of St. Vincent DePaul, the Diocesan Society of St. Vincent DePaul and the Diocesan Council of Catholic Men. In addition, he served as Secretary of the National Council of Catholic Men. Over the years Ray received Man of the Year awards, lifetime service awards and a number of special awards. Among the special awards were the St. Thomas More Award from the Diocesan Council of Catholic Men as outstanding Layman, the Lay Award of St. Joseph the Worker from the Bishop of Buffalo, for outstanding meritorious service to St. Amelia's parish and the Medallion Circle Award, from the National Holy Name Society, the highest achievement award that can be given to a Holy Name member. Ray was an avid bowler, die-hard Bills booster and a lifelong Yankees fan. He is survived by three sons, Raymond, Daniel and William; three daughters, Grace Mondello, Susan Galeza and Carol Rudroff; 16 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. A Mass of Christian Burial was offered at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 26, in St. Amelia's Church.