Let the memory of Rusty be with us forever
  • 84 years old
  • Born on February 23, 1934 in Los Angeles, California, United States.
  • Passed away on August 9, 2018 in Anacortes, Washington, United States.

  • Remembrances may may be made as follows below:In lieu of flowers, family requests remembrances to be made in Carl L. Bowen's name to The Oak Harbor Education Foundation, attn: Kathy Jones/Jones Accounting. P.O. Box 1801, Oak Harbor WA. 98277  or  to The American Heart Association via phone ( 1-800-AHA-USA1 ) or online, www.heart.org

Carl Lyle Bowen, nicknamed “Rusty” due to his enviable full head of red hair even at the age of 84, passed away peacefully while surrounded by loved ones on Thursday, August 9, 2018. Deemed to be the true bionic man, he put forth a heroic three week battle against complications suffered after a traumatic fall.This superman was born on February 23, 1934 in his least favorite town of Los Angeles, California to Denzel and Margaret Bowen.Growing up near Watts helped him to become a strong, resilient young man. However, he was grateful when his parents finally moved up to the Pacific Northwest near Seattle.

Coordinated and athletic, Rusty participated in an eclectic range of activities including tap dancing and roller skating in his youth to competitive diving, swimming, and gymnastics in college. However, what he truly adored was the outdoors. Rusty’s adventurous spirit was ignited at an early age. Over the years, Rusty became a skilled hunter, avid camper and backpacker, enthusiastic gardener and masterful fisherman.

In 1956, Rusty graduated from Eastern Washington University with a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. Along with earning his teaching credential, he also completed the Army ROTC program. After college, Rusty chose to join the Army. He entered as a Second Lieutenant and worked as a hospital administrator in the Army Medical Service Corp. His tour of duty took him to Germany and around the United States.  After his honorable discharge, he transitioned to education. He became a respected PE teacher and successful cross country, track, and swim coach at Chief Sealth High School in Seattle, Washington. Most importantly, this job allowed him to live the outdoorsman life on a regular basis, which included enjoying his own boat and doing commercial fishing for salmon and halibut in his spare time.

After 30 years of teaching, Rusty finally retired. In 1999, he moved up to Whidbey Island, WA. with his soulmate of 48 years, Leah Ann Bowen.This joyful spot became his outdoor stomping grounds for 19 more years. 

Throughout his adult life, Rusty exemplified how to live life to the fullest. With the support and tolerance of his wife, Rusty dabbled in various creative pursuits including photography, guitar strumming, rock collecting, clamming, crabbing, chicken farming,turkey raising, beer making, fly tying, salmon smoking and even garlic pickling. Eating onions like apples and pickled garlic cloves were favorite treats for him and may have contributed to his long life and superman powers.

Rusty will be remembered for being a calm leader, protective and devoted husband, and a supportive father. He was a unique, resourceful, steadfast man who some may say had a tough appearing exterior, but he was truly a teddy bear at heart.

Rusty was preceded in death by his parents, Margaret and Denzel, son Russel, and stepson Michael. He is survived by his wife, Leah Ann, his sister, Patty, his daughters Cathy and Carolyn, his stepdaughters Michelle and Becky, his grandchildren, Justin, Casey, Devyn, Tiana, Jacob and Garrett, his in-laws, Ray, Julie, Bobbie and  Mike, and many other loving family and friends. 

Feel free to leave a tribute below or share a story on this site that reminds you of Rusty; for it is these treasured memories of Rusty that will live on forever.

Posted by Ray English on 24th November 2018
I taught at Sealth from 1972 til 1982, and during that time, I enjoyed teaching with Rusty and working with him with the track team. He was a great motivator to the track team, and the students loved him for the unconditional dedication that he gave them. He made not just great athletes, but he made great people. I know that those that he worked with will never forget him for his love for everyone. He was in inspiration to me as a teacher. I will not forget him.
Posted by Betty Clark on 3rd September 2018
I didn't know Rusty well personally, but I knew of him from his sister Pat and her husband, my cousin, Leroy. He was one of those people that you could count on. He will be greatly missed by all those who knew him....especially his family.
Posted by Leroy McKimmey on 29th August 2018
I first met Rusty in 1954 when I started dating his sister and in 1956 he was member of our wedding party. He was finishing school and then left for military service. In 1958 our family moved from Eastern WA. to Western WA. and we reconnected and then I began to learn about some of the qualities that Rusty had. If he told something he would do and shook your hand it would happen. At one of our family dinners he asked if I would like to go fishing with him. Sure but I am a greenhorn and no equipment I answered. Oh I have enough to get you outfitted so you don't freeze he replied. The next morning at 4AM we were on the river bank of the green river. To this day, I tend to believe that he tied this 6 pound steel head on my line. It took all his training and 18 months before I landed my next one. I figured I had passed all his lessons when one day, it was so crowded on the river, he invited me to stand shoulder to shoulder with him and fish. He was a great brother- in- law may he rest in peace and have crystal clear water to fish in !!! Reply Reply All Forward
Posted by Patty McKimmey on 23rd August 2018
To know Rusty is to know he LOVED the outdoors so some of my best memories are of the times our young families would go camping together. The trips always included fishing, outdoor cooking, hiking and chatting around the campfire after the kids were settled in their sleeping bags. Rusty was my big brother and although he was older, I think he figured I could take care of myself. Occasionally, however, a situation would arise and he was there to help and be supportive. I will always love and mss my brother! Patty
Posted by Douglas Rickerson on 19th August 2018
I first became acquainted with Rusty through the coaching fraternity when I was the swimming coach and football coach at Garfield High School! Our swim teams competed against each other, and he and I became friends! Later on, we became closer friends through Chuck Terpenning! I had a fishing charter boat I ran in the summers out of Port Angeles! Rusty and Chuck would bring his boat up, and tie up at my boathouse! We had lots of great parties and fishing trips! My wife (Karlista) and I spent some time with Rusty and Leah Ann at their home on Whidbey Island! Rusty was a great friend, and will be very much missed! May God Bless his soul, Leah Ann and his family! Coach Doug I forgot to mention, Rusty raised garlic! He knew I loved garlic a s he did! One year, he sent me a box of several varieties he had been growing! It was a wonderful gesture!
Posted by Doug Cooper on 13th August 2018
I had the pleasure of taking fishing trips with Rusty, Along with Ray & Jeff Carolus. Rusty truly was a master at it, an exceptional outdoors man who loved a good joke along with a shot of whiskey. I'm truly honored and blessed to have known him.
Posted by Catherine Hes on 12th August 2018
Message from Kimberly Shay: Keston and I went to see Rusty last Saturday. It has been so long. He smiled and chuckled seeing us. We talked some and joked about me always popping his suspenders every time I would see him. So glad we got to see him before he passed. Love and Blessings for him to Rest In Peace. Love and miss you All. Warm and Sincerity, Kimberly Shay

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