If idle hands are the devil’s playthings, the devil isn’t bothering with Peggy and Rich Bowman. After long and exciting careers in the Air Force, where they met, they just don’t stop.
Peggy, a former public affairs officer who staffed Space Shuttle launches, is constantly creating. She turns wool into yarn, knits yarn into sweaters or weaves it into fabric, and watercolors into illustrated travel diaries – when she’s not writing the history of her Ohio community’s fire department. Rich, her husband, who stood alert on Minuteman Missiles and managed major Air Force acquisition programs, is now driving golf balls, constantly remodeling the house, and tinkering with the “second home,” an RV that has taken them to every corner of the country several times over.
An unexpected second act
These are things the Bowmans do for themselves, but perhaps the most important part of their post-retirement encore has been serving others: They co-founded the first and only fire department auxiliary in the Ohio community of Beavercreek Township (pop. 52,000). Neither Peggy nor Rich had been in the fire service; like many, they encountered it the hard way. In 1995, their house caught fire, and brave men and women stopped it from burning to the ground.
Wanting to give back, the Bowman’s consulted the fire department’s chaplain and with him established the Beavercreek Township Fire Department Auxiliary in 1995. The group, which quickly grew to 70 members, has since supported the fire service during emergencies, keeping firefighters fed and hydrated, and planning social activities for the fire department family. “We also provide assistance to victims of home fires,” says Peggy. “Since we went through our own ordeal, we understood how necessary and valuable it is.”
The Bowmans led the auxiliary for 19 years. Unlike traditional auxiliaries, the Beavercreek Township Fire Department Auxiliary welcomes male and female volunteers working together. Also uncommonly, the auxiliary trained with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency to be part of a community emergency response team, ready to react to any community disaster. This capability proved vital to the community response when Beavercreek was hit by a major tornado on Memorial Day in 2019. The Bowmans transferred leadership in 2014 to another couple but continue to support it as active members.
Home is paramount
The Bowmans are clearly doers. As you might expect, they refuse to ever relinquish their autonomy, which, unfortunately Peggy’s mom nearly did when moved into a continuing care facility years ago. It was an acceptable model, but poorly executed. Her mother’s caretakers provided far more “assistance” than needed, forcing Peggy’s mom to submit to a daily routine that robbed her of autonomy. “Everything about her life was on their schedule, not hers,” laments Peggy.
That’s the type of scenario that prompted the Bowmans to seek out a different long-term living solution for themselves, one where they could age in their own beautiful home on their own terms. As they were assessing options, a Kendal at Home mailer turned up in their mailbox. They liked what they saw but did their due diligence about its services in care planning, coverage, and management.
They appreciated the premium that Kendal at Home places on autonomy and remember one light exchange that helped convince them they were making the right decision: “Kendal promised us that ‘even if a doctor advises against it, yes, you can have bacon.’ We like bacon.”
Their care manager went on to get to know the Bowmans and their preferences on a deeper level, providing further assurance they would be in control over the long term. They are recommending Kendal at Home to others.
“We don’t have any children to look after our well-being in our old age,” says Rich. “So, we will be relying heavily on Kendal to coordinate any care we need. After going through the pandemic, it’s really important to us to be able to stay in our own home and not be locked into a care facility for months on end. We want the control in our hands.”
Adds Peggy, “After seeing my mom’s experience, I decided I want to live my entire life in my own home. I don’t want someone telling me it’s time for lunch when I’m not hungry, or ‘let’s get you out to bingo now’ when I prefer solitude. I know what’s best for me.”