Dr. Donald N. Bowdle suffered a fatal heart attack Monday morning shortly after leaving his campus office.
Bowdle attended Lee in the 1950s. He later returned to teach theology for 50 years, retiring from full-time teaching in 2012. He was 78.
He was the first recipient of the School of Religion’s distinguished alumni award presented during the 2013 Homecoming festivities.
He also earned his doctor of theology at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia; his master of theolo-gy from Princeton Theological Seminary; and his Ph.D. and master of arts from Bob Jones University.
Additional scholastic accomplishments include a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh and Yale University.
As the 2012 commencement speaker, Bowdle encouraged the graduating seniors to “welcome each day as divine and service-ordained just for you ... in your sphere of influence.”
And he reminded them, “wherever you serve God in the world, keep on learning.”
President Paul Conn said of Bowdle, “It is impossible to overstate the impact Don had on the academic development at Lee. He laid much of the groundwork for the institution that Lee has become. For five decades he was a teacher, a scholar and a role model to both faculty and students. We have lost one of the dearest members of the Lee family.”
Former students, friends and fellow faculty members have taken to Lee University’s Facebook page to offer their condolences.
One former student commented, “I loved Dr. Bowdle. He was such a wonderful man, Christian, theologian, scholar and professor. His impact upon my life has been immeasurably magnificent. The world will be a less wonderful place without him.”
Bowdle leaves behind his wife, Jean, and together the two had three married children and seven grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held in the Lee University Chapel. Details about the service will be posted to the Lee website later today.