The Bowmans first moved to the Dayton area in 1991. Both retired after successful military careers, the Bowmans have chosen to “age in place,” a term that means choosing to stay in their own home rather than move to an independent or assisted living facility.
“I was born and raised in Elmyra, New York,” Peggy said. “I went to college there and thought I would teach. But that didn’t pan out.”
In those days, Peggy said she found her career options were extremely limited.
“There was teaching, nursing, secretarial or getting married and raising a family,” Peggy said.
But both parents had served in the military — her mom in the U.S. Navy and her dad in the U.S. Army — during World War II, so they steered their daughter towards the same career path.
Peggy joined the U.S. Air Force in 1972, three years after her college graduation. At the time, there was a push to get more women interested in military service. But Peggy, who said she was underweight, was rejected several times before she was finally accepted into Officer Training School.
“I wasn’t crazy about my chosen career field, so I talked with other officers and discovered public affairs,” Peggy said. “I loved it from the beginning.”
While Peggy was learning the ropes in public affairs, writing and editing for base newspapers and handling media opportunities, Richard was also moving up in his military career after graduating from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs in 1974.
“My dad retired from the Air Force in Colorado,” Richard said. “So I was close to home. My philosophy was that as long as I was enjoying my time in the military, I would continue.”
Richard’s first assignment as a new Air Force officer was at Warren Air Force Base near Cheyenne, Wyoming where he was a minute man missile launch officer. And it turned out that Peggy was the public affairs officer at the same base.
“We got married in 1978,” Richard said.
In 1983, the couple moved to Los Angeles, where Peggy worked on a master’s degree in journalism and Richard was selected to work on space and missile programs.
From there the couple moved to Tennessee, then to Alabama and Washington DC. Their final stop before retirement ended up being Dayton and Wright Patterson Air Force Base.
“We found our home in Beavercreek and grew to really love the area,” Peggy said. “I ended up retiring five years before Rich and we thought about moving back to Tennessee, but we loved all the cultural activities available right here in Dayton.”
A massive house fire in 1995 presented the couple with another opportunity. While working with insurance companies and contractors to rebuild their home, Peggy met the local fire department chaplain, who asked her if she’d like to join the auxiliary, which, it turned out, did not yet exist.
At the time, Peggy had just retired from the Air Force and was 48 years old.
“Before the house fire I thought I was going to turn my weaving hobby into a full-time business,” Peggy said. “But the auxiliary became a full-time volunteer job.”
Peggy and Richard ended up co-founding the first and only fire department auxiliary in Beavercreek Twp., which they led for 19 years.
When Richard retired from the Air Force in 2000, he also opted not to return to full time work in the civilian sector, but instead devoted his time to doing the things he loved – golf, volunteer work and travel.
“Our real travel didn’t start until I retired,” Richard said. “Now we travel in our motorhome and have been to the four corners of the continent.”
Though remaining active has helped the couple maintain their health and vigor, they also recognize that aging is inevitable, and they are doing everything they can to continue living in the home they love.
“We got involved with an organization called ‘Kendal at Home,’” Richard said. “They coordinate long term health care options for us so we can stay in our home.”
To honor their 60 years of combined service to their community, the State of Ohio Department of Aging inducted the couple into the Senior Citizens Hall of Fame on Sept. 19.
Peggy said that having the ability to help others and enjoy good health is a true blessing. Paramount to both going forward is having total control of their living situation.
“We are so honored that we were selected,” Peggy said. “I encourage people to get out there and look for ways to enrich their lives and the lives of others through public service.”