Edwin 'Mac' Bowman, 61

high school band director

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/08/05

Mac Bowman played a mean clarinet, but that's not where he devoted most of his musical talent.

Before retiring in 2001, Mr. Bowman spent 23 years directing McEachern High School's band program, determined to make the musicians who marched during halftime as respected as the football players on the Cobb County high school's playing field.

He was extremely passionate about all types of music, but bigger than the music was the way he could handle students," said his brother, Tom Bowman of Savage, Minn. "He was extremely good with all kinds of kids rich, poor, it made no difference to him."

Edwin "Mac" Bowman Jr., 61, of Bristol, Tenn., died of complications from lung cancer Feb. 26 at Wellmont Bristol Regional Medical Center. The body was cremated. A private memorial service was held. Weaver Funeral Home of Bristol was in charge of arrangements.

The son of a high school band director, Mr. Bowman used to tag along as a child and observe his father on the job.

"He saw the way our father worked with children and took it to the next level," his brother said.

Mr. Bowman's successor, Sonny Petway of Dallas, was McEachern's assistant band director for four years before taking over the program, which includes five concert bands, two marching bands and two jazz bands.

"The great thing about Mac is that he didn't just teach the kids, but he made sure he taught me as well," Mr. Petway said.

Bob Cowles of Marietta, who directed Walton High School's band for 24 years, said Mr. Bowman was an astute band judge who was generous with advice.

"He could immediately tell you which piece to play to show off your strengths and hide your weaknesses," Mr. Cowles said. "Mac was great about coming around and sharing tidbits and tricks to improve the band's sound.

After he retired, Mr. Bowman continued to judge competitions and help other bands, and he returned to watch McEachern for every major performance he could.

Known for quoting lines from the old "Andy Griffith" television show, Mr. Bowman also was fanatically devoted to the University of Tennessee Volunteers football team. In addition, he kept a list of recommended books that he foisted on everyone he could, with the novel "A Confederacy of Dunces" in the top spot.

Candy White of Conyers, a music teacher and former student of Mr. Bowman's, said he always maintained a laid-back demeanor, even on highly charged band trips.

"I never once saw him get uptight or nervous about anything," she said. "He had a relaxed way of letting us know he really cared about us personally and academically as well as musically, and we just idolized him."

Survivors include his mother, Willie S. "Billie" Bowman of Bristol.



Mac Bowman sits with the McEachern High School band at an Atlanta Falcons football game shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when the band performed at halftime.