Charlie Bowerman A Legacy of Community Service from Phillips 66 Basketball Legend (4)


Charlie Bowerman: A Legacy of Community Service from Phillips 66 Basketball Legend

Charlie Bowerman, a former executive at Phillips 66 and a basketball legend, was a man who radiated a down-to-earth confidence that uplifted everyone he encountered. Regardless of their station in life, spending time with him, basking in his laid-back personality and unforgettable smile, left people feeling better about themselves and the world.

Charlie’s earthly journey concluded on September 2, less than six months after the passing of his beloved wife, Coralea, with whom he shared nearly 63 years of marriage. Together, they raised three daughters: Cindy Dean (married to Paul), Cristie Lister (married to Darren), and Candie Morris (married to Jeff). Their family expanded to include over 10 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Charlie had a remarkable way of inspiring confidence in others. As his friend of 48 years, Bob Pomeroy, recalled, “Early in my career, he convinced me that I could go as far with the company as I wanted. I did not have a college degree, and it was Charlie who persuaded me that through hard work, I would be just fine. Those words stayed with me throughout my 39 years with Phillips.”

Attempting to encapsulate the essence of Charlie Bowerman’s life is like trying to capture the beauty of a sunrise in a bottle. The scene fades away, leaving behind only the intangible essence of cherished memories.

Charlie embodied all that is good—a loving and dedicated family man, a devout believer centered on God, an accomplished athlete, a highly effective professional, a humanitarian whose actions spoke volumes, and an influential force in various worthwhile individual and community initiatives.

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A few words come to mind when I think of Charlie Bowerman: Warm, caring, welcoming, fun-loving, mischievous,” said long-time associate and friend Debbie Mueggenborg.

Mueggenborg first met Bowerman when they served together as co-chairmen of the Bartlesville American Legion World Series (ALWS) Committee. Initially, she didn’t feel up to Bowerman’s level as a leader.

“I was a little nervous about working with someone of his status. … Dennis and I met Charlie and Corky at (a fundraiser),” she recalled. “The first thing he said was ‘I hear we are running a baseball tournament!’ From that time on Charlie and Corky were the warmest, kindest and most welcoming to us.”

Charlie Bowerman first moved to Bartlesville to play for the Phillips 66ers and work for Phillips Petroleum. Most of a lifetime later, he forged a shining mark of community service, volunteerism and professionalism. “He was a terrific ‘family man,'” Pomeroy said. “Although he traveled a lot … he always had time for his family. And no one ever had a better friend than Charlie.”

Charlie and Coralea were both born in Alamo, Ind.

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Charlie grew up with a passion for basketball — and he honed his skills to the level of a Hoosier State legend.

After playing for his dad in high school, Bowerman attended Wabash College (Ind.). He scored 53 points in a five-overtime win against Butler. He later set the school record of 63 points in a game — which still stands today. He led Wabash to the NCAA regionals four times.

In 1982, Wabash inducted the 6-foot-1 former scoring dynamo into its College Athletics Hall of Fame. The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame inducted him in 1995.

Bowerman’s extraordinary basketball skills attracted the attention of the NBA, and he was selected as a fifth-round draft choice by the New York Knicks in 1961. However, even before the NBA came calling, Phillips 66 had interviewed Bowerman for a position with the renowned Phillips 66ers men’s basketball team (AAU) and a job within the company.

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Choosing the path of a stable career with the opportunity to continue playing basketball at a high level, Bowerman made the decision to relocate to Bartlesville. He not only earned a chance to try out for the 1964 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team but also achieved AAU All-American honors.

Following his tenure as a player with the 66ers, Bowerman ascended to the position of Petroleum Products Senior Vice President on an international scale and became a member of the Phillips board of directors. His remarkable career spanned 38 years, culminating in his retirement in 1999.

Throughout the years, Bowerman and his wife dedicated their efforts to the betterment of Bartlesville. One notable contribution was the establishment of a scholarship in memory of Lou Skurcenski, another former 66ers player. The scholarship, benefiting student athletes, was placed in the Bartlesville Community Foundation. Stephanie Skurcenski, Lou’s wife, recalled Charlie’s instrumental role in initiating this foundation, which continues to benefit many in Bartlesville.

Bowerman played a pivotal role in the formation of the Bartlesville Sports Commission, responsible for generating substantial economic impact for the city and the establishment of the Bartlesville Athletic Hall of Fame. He and his wife also played crucial roles in the development of the new Boys & Girls Club of Bartlesville.

In addition to these formal contributions, Bowerman hosted or facilitated multiple Phillips 66ers’ reunions in Bartlesville, preserving local sports traditions. Away from the limelight, he coached youth sports teams and conducted an annual basketball camp for many years. Known for his mischievous side, Bowerman once humorously corrected a reference to baseball Hall of Famer Bob Feller as “Joe” Feller.

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From that moment on, he playfully teased me,” she fondly remembered. “But it was all in good fun. I’ll miss Charlie and his joyful personality. I believe he’s in a better place now, and I look forward to reuniting with him there.”

Charlie’s absence will undoubtedly leave a void in the lives of those who knew him.

“While we will feel his absence, he leaves behind a legacy that serves as a guiding light for us to carry on the important work he initiated,” Pomeroy remarked.


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