Pepperdine University and the Office of Church Relations mourn the passing of a dear colleague and influential minister. Dr. Calvin Bowers passed away on Friday morning, August 8, at the age of 82.
“Without the vision and leadership of Calvin Bowers, Pepperdine University would be a different place today,” said Dr. David Baird, dean emeritus of Pepperdine’s Seaver College. “His was a persistent but calm voice on campus in the racially tense years of the late 1960s and early 1970s. He founded the University’s ethnic studies program and served as its first dean. Later he advocated and then as director of the office became responsible for implementing a strong affirmative action program as it related to race and gender. In all he was a role model when it came to race matters, but also as a teacher, a Christian man, a powerful preacher, and a gentle spirit with a twinkle in his eye.”
“If Dr. Calvin Bowers had done nothing more than write Realizing the California Dream: The Story of the Black Churches of Christ in Los Angeles and Ollie’s Kids: A Family’s Journey, his legacy would have been assured,” says Jerry Rushford. “But he had so many more achievements in his illustrious 57-year ministry with the Figueroa Church of Christ and in his long career at Pepperdine University. He was a mentor to two generations of church leaders and a friend to thousands of church members and former students. Above all, he was a devout Christian.”
Calvin ministered with the Figueroa Church of Christ for over 50 years, beginning as their Minister of Education in 1957 until his appointment as Minister in 1995. In 1998, Calvin published Realizing the California Dream, providing insight into the African American Churches of Christ in Los Angeles. He also served as editor of Blue Prints for Building a Better Lifestyle by 21st Century Publishing. He received the Roy Wilkins Education Award from Inglewood Branch of the NAACP, and served as chairman of the National Youth Conference for 46 years, as well as speaker for the Hour of Truth television program.
Calvin has left an indelible mark on Pepperdine University. He earned two Master of Arts degrees here (religious education in 1960 and speech communication in 1972), before earning his doctorate of education in Higher Education and Administration from the University of Southern California in 1981. He has served Pepperdine University in a variety of influential roles: Dean of Ethnic and Urban Studies (1969-1976), Director of Equal Opportunity and Professor of Communication (1976-2004), and, at the time of his death, Special Assistant to the President, Andy Benton.
He was married to Mozell Trice for over 47 years until her death in 2004, and is survived by his wife, Barbara Hayes Bowers. His family includes three children, Crystal Guy, Byron Bowers, and Lori Bailey, two step-children, and thirteen grandchildren.
Calvin’s memorial service will be held on Friday evening, August 15 at 7 pm at Figueroa Church of Christ. His funeral service will be held on Saturday, August 16 at 11 am at Figueroa, with the viewing at 10 am.