Obituary, George W. Bowen

Psalm 37:37

Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright,

for the end of that man is peace.

When George was confirmed at age 13, in April 1938, the pastor of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Floral Park, NY prophetically chose this verse to represent the young man pictured above. It was most appropriate, for indeed, he did become an upright, good man.

George W. Bowen, age 96, resident of The Bickford Senior Living Community, Virginia Beach, VA died on March 30, 2021. George was born September 24, 1924 in Floral Park, NY to William and Anna Bowen.

To his father’s dismay, in 1943, at age 19, George enlisted in the United States Navy. He saw service aboard the heavy aircraft carrier USS Franklin in the Pacific as an Aviation Electrician Mate 3/C. He received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained in a Kamikaze attack off Kyushu, Japan in March 1945.

George married the former Helen Lizzette Bloechle, in June 1950, at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Floral Park, NY. For nearly 40 years they resided in Floral Park, NY before moving to Garden City, NY where they resided for another 25 years.

He received a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering in 1947 from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn and a Master of Industrial Engineering in 1951 from New York University.

George Bowen worked for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company for 18 years as Director of Materials Handling. A 1961 trade magazine article described him as the focal person for material handling safety as he worked with Liberty’s 350 field engineers and the safety departments of the company’s policyholders.

When he left Liberty Mutual, and began working for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) from 1967 to 1996, he became a force for international standardization of material handling and manufacturing, and in particular the use of the intermodal shipping container. In 1967, the use of the international cargo shipping container was still in its nascent period. Standardization of the container’s size had not been achieved and its use had not yet gained worldwide acceptance. Without an international size standard, the shipping container’s movement would be hindered in its transfer from land to sea to air, negating its benefits. George worked to secure international acceptance of the standardized shipping container. To this end, George served as the Secretariat of International Trade Standardization meetings around the world. At his retirement, at age 72, the following sentiments were shared:

The responsibilities of an ISO International Technical Committee Secretariat are awesome and at time require a good bit of tightrope walking. The secretariat must serve the best interests of international standardization and faithfully carry out the letter and intent of ISO (International Standards Organization) procedures. At the same time there is necessarily considerable national interest involved which must also receive proper recognition. It is a wonder that any secretariat can do as well as GWB. His unusual ability to knife through triviality and summarize agreements in resolution format cut off hours of palaver. He was able to capture the fine points of agreement, with USA interests in mind. We will miss your experience and wise council and your ability to get us through the tough battles with few to no scars.

We can look at the millions of containers moving in every country of the world and this is attributable to the good job you did. That is quite a feather in your cap and one you should take real pride in.

I got to know George as the quiet observant guy at the end of the table who heard everything and said almost nothing. He resolved any questions of ANSI protocol as soon as they arose with about six words. No one asked why or said explain that. No matter how hectic, argumentative and factional the meeting became and they often did, George was the rock and anchor.

He was an active leader in professional organizations through out his career: American Society of Mechanical Engineers – Chairman of Safety Division Executive Committee, American Material Handling Society – President New York Chapter, International Material Management Society – President New York Chapter, and New York & Massachusetts Engineering Societies – Registered Professional Engineer.

After retirement George was involved with the Long Island Early Fliers Club, the Long Island Air& Space Museum, the Nassau County Office for the Physically Challenged, the Long Island Children’s Museum, and both the Garden City, NY and Floral Park, NY Historical Societies.

George was predeceased in 2018 by his spouse of 68 years, Helen Lizzette Bowen. He is survived by his children Janet Blohm (James), Thomas Bowen (Amy), his grandchildren Lizette Reed (Ryan), Claire Blohm – Warshauer (Alex), Dustin Bowen, and his great -grandchildren June and Walden Reed.

A memorial service will be celebrated at a later date in New York, followed by burial at Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale, NY. Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home, Princess Anne Chapel is handling arrangements.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.

Published in The Virginian-Pilot from Apr. 6 to Apr. 7, 2021.

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