P. E. BOWEN, BLIND MUSICIAN, DIES IN SLEEP
Professor Succumbs To Heart Attack; Funeral Monday
Stricken with a heart attack as he slept, Professor P. E. Bowen, 63, who though blind, gained eminence as a musical instructor in the early days of Huntington and later as a business man, died early yesterday morning at his home at 1507 Third avenue where he had resided the past 40 years.
Although it had been Professor Bowen's custom in recent years to breakfast late, Mrs. Bowen became alarmed shortly before noon yesterday when her husband failed to put in his appearance by 11:30 o'clock. Investinating, she found him dead in his bed to which he had retired Thursday night without complaint of ill feeling after an unusually hearty supper.
Dr. F. X. Schuller, county coroner, ascribed Professor Bowen's death to heart failure resulting from a general deterioration of physical functions throughout the past 15 years from the musical profession. Dr. Schuller stated that death had occurred hardly more than an hour before discovery of the body and had come to the victim painlessly.
In Poor Health
Professor Bowen's health had been in an admittedly precarious state for a number of years as the consequences of a nervous breakdown he suffered in 1920 and which was attended by two major operations.
Once a familiar figure on the streets of Huntington, as he hurried caneless and unescorted, to the various homes of his host of students. Professor Bowen had scarcely left his residence a dozen times since his breakdown, limiting himself recently to the operation of a small grocery store in the front of his Third avenue dwelling.
Assisting him in this business was his wife Della, who a few years previously had helped him establich a dress manufacturing concern in the same residence known as the Bowen Dress Company.
Professor Bowen was best known for his work in the musical field in which he established a clientele that included many prominent Huntingtonians. He at one time conducted his own string ensemble and was a prized maestro at many of the city's early social affairs.
Professor Bowen was born at Greenbottom, Dec. 20, 1872, the son of Zaze and Catherine Bowen who had migrated to this state from North Carolina.
Studied At Romney
Rendered sightless at an early age through a series of accidents, he began his musical education at the School for the Blind at Romney, where, because of extraordinary efficiency in mastering the curriculum, he was advised to enter a school providing a wider range of subjects.
From Romney, Professor Bowen went to the University of Maryland in Baltimore where he undertook to accomplish the wider curriculum, but when informed that he could not gain a certificate because of deficiencies contingent upon his handicap, he returned to Huntington and set himself up as a musician.
His success was pronounced from the start, soon given added lustre by his marriage to Della Maud Hollandsworth, then a young school teacher and a member of his class in piano. The two were married in December, 1904.
Three children were born to that union, Edith, the present Mrs. R. R. Thornton, of Charleston; John, fromer member of the editorial staff of The Herald-Dispatch and recently engaged in newpaper work in New York, and Joe, an employe of the Owens-Illinois Glass Company.
Blindness Only Relative
Professor Bowen throughout his life used the assets of an indomitable will, absolute confidence and keen intelligence against the liabilities of sightlessness. He followed closely the philosophy that blindness was a merely relative condition in which intelligence and discernment could always substitute for the eyes.
"There is no such thing as blindness" Professor Bowen said at one time. "The loss of one's eyes does not blind him. It simply deprives his brain of one of its fine lines of communication. When that line is destroyed the other four immediately begin to adjust themselves to do the work formerly done by one which has been destroyed. Seeing by the blind is the same thing as hearing by the radio when the telephone wires are down.
"Seeing is not an end' it simply a means to an end. The reflection of an image on the eye is nothing. The transmission of that image to the brain where the vital impression is made, is what counts."
Explaining his disdain of a cane and the fact that he walked hundreds of miles of city streets in the early days without assistance or mishap, Professor Bowen said: "How do I do it? With brains. We see with our brains, not our eyes. How do the blind get the impression of the brain? My only answer is that we do get it-as surely, as vividly and as unerringly as seeing persons do."
In additon to his wife, Della Maud and the three children mentioned above, Professor Bowen is survived by his sister, Miss Della May Bowen and a brother, Will Bowen of Cleveland.
Funeral services are in charge of the Kincaid Funeral Home and have been tentatively set for 10 o'clock Monday morning, with burial in the Bowen family plot in Springhill cemetery.
The family plan only a private service and has requested the ommission of flowers.
The Herald-Dispatch, Saturday Morning, January 4, 1936, pg.2
Note: There is a picture of P. E. Bowen with this article.