Max Gene Bowman, 85, died April 4, at Mill Pond Senior Living in Ankeny, Iowa, of pneumonia, a complication of Lewy Body dementia.
Mr. Bowman was born in Perry, Iowa, to Jean and Orie Bowman, and completed high school there while developing a passion for construction through working with his stepfather, Charlie Paist. Following a sales position with a local construction equipment business, All Wheel Drive, he partnered with his wife and a friend, Roger Bills, to open Star Equipment Ltd. in 1968.
Through humble beginnings they built the company with a goal to solve their customers' problems — hence the motto "The Problem Solvers." He continued working at his company part-time in his later years, coming into the office until he was 82.
Mr. Bowman was a pioneer in his own right for the construction industry bringing many new and innovative products to the construction equipment market in Iowa. He brought skid steer loaders to contractors and farmers in the late 1960s; construction lasers to the sewer and general contractors in the 1970s; concrete pumps in the late 1970s and early 80s; and telehandlers in the 1980s.
He strongly believed in being an active part of whatever he was involved in, whether it was personal or in the construction industry. He believed if you weren't a part of the industry and didn't pay it forward then you couldn't understand a customer's needs nor properly help them. Industry associations Mr. Bowman was active in over the years included: Associated Equipment Distributors (AED); Iowa Nebraska Equipment Dealers (INEDA); Master Builders of Iowa (MBI); Associated General Contractors of Iowa (AGCI); Iowa Concrete Paving Association (ICPA); Associated Builders and Contractors of Iowa (ABCI); National Utility Contractors Association of Iowa (NUCAIA); Land Improvement Contractors of Iowa (LICAI); Asphalt Paving Association of Iowa (APAI); American Concrete Pumping Association (ACPA); Good Fellowship; Ames Home Builders Association (AHBA); Home Builders Association of Des Moines (DSMHBA); Masonry Institute of Iowa (MII); and countless others.
He will be forever missed by Beverly Joyce Bowman, his wife of 67 years, their sons and daughter, Brett (Vicki) Bowman, Bradley (Lois) Bowman, Bruce (Mary Lawyer) Bowman and Brenda (Bruce) Erickson, and their grandchildren, Alyssa (Tory) Donegan, Charlie (Alli) Bowman, Brianna (Chris) Koopman, Brian Erickson, and Remington (Leslie) Lawyer, and great-grandchildren, Estella Bowman; Roman, Amelia and Noah Donegan; and Owen Koopman. He is also survived by his brother, O. Keith Bowman.
The Bowmans are very proud that their three sons continue this legacy throughout Iowa at four locations with more than 80 employees. Max taught his children: people buy from people; take care of the customer; everyone deserves a chance; and treat your customer the way you want to be treated. These beliefs continue to be part of the company today.
Mr. Bowman loved cars and has owned several early models. He had a special fondness for Ford Mustangs and Thunderbirds, enjoying many activities with the car club to which he belonged. His grandchildren will always remember their 16th birthdays and the car they received from Grandpa and Grandma Bowman. Max's brother, O. Keith Bowman, also shared an interest in cars dating back to the days when they altered the top of a Ford Model T as teenagers.
Through giving of time and many other resources he has supported several organizations including Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation, Iowa State University, Shriners Hospitals for Children and The Masonic Lodge. Max was a Freemason and enjoyed working with his colleagues at the King David Lodge #407 in Altoona. He also was a member of the Za-Ga-Zig Shriners and the Scottish Rite. He often could be found slipping quietly into a church or the Scottish Rite Consistory helping and volunteering his time to any construction or construction-related project. He loved driving his cars in the parades the organizations supported and driving the golf cart at the Iowa State Fair to support the Lodge.
Services will be private. When the world reopens, we'll get together to toast him, his life and the joy he brought to yours.
Donations in Mr. Bowman's name may be made to the Alzheimer's Association (alz.org/donate) or the Iowa Food Bank (iowafba.org/donate).