In Memoriam: Harry “Hal” Bowman
Hal Bowman, a GIS professional and geography graduate of both Johns Hopkins University and The Ohio State University, was among the 14 people killed in the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, on December 2, 2015. He was 46 years old.
Harry Albert Bowman was born on June 8, 1969, and grew up in Jacobus, York County, Pennsylvania. He attended Dallastown Area High School where he was a National Merit Scholar and graduated second in his class of 1987. He was also involved in cross country and was a stalwart of the school debate team for several years.
Bowman then attended The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, studying for a BA in geography followed by a MA in geography and environmental engineering, graduating with honors in 1991. He was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity where he served as Community Services chair and was remembered for his charitable efforts including participating in dance marathons and bouncing basketballs for cause fundraisers, and helping at soup kitchens.
In 1993 Bowman moved to The Ohio State University for doctoral studies. Supervised by Morton O’Kelly, he produced a thesis entitled “Optimizing Transportation Infrastructure Improvements for Networks under The Threat of Natural Hazards.” His work concerned retrofitting bridges to improve their resilience to earthquake damage. O’Kelly noted that Bowman worked extremely efficiently to complete an excellent dissertation; he also remembered him as “a special guy” who “had lots of great ideas.”
Having completed his PhD in 1995 he moved to California to work at Esri, establishing himself as a GIS programmer and analyst. He was subsequently appointed as one of the first employees at a new counter-terrorism center at the University of Southern California: the Center for Risk Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE).
CREATE was the first Department of Homeland Security University Center of Excellence, established after the 9/11 attacks. Bowman’s expertise in software, mapping and spatial datasets was applied to evaluating the risk and economic impact of national security threats and terrorist events in order to guide authorities in their planning and decision making. He contributed to many of CREATE’s early projects, including the Risk Analysis Workbench, emergency medical supply distribution software, and a counter-terrorism modeling framework.
In September 2015, just two months before his untimely death, Bowman started a new job as a statistical analyst for Healthy Communities for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. He was attending the holiday party for county employees at the Inland Regional Center when a co-worker and his wife entered the room and opened fire.
Bowman had two daughters, aged 15 and 11. He was a devoted father who considered their education of upmost importance, developing their knowledge and curiosity thorough at-home science experiments, summer educational programs, trips to the library, and countless visits to museums of all kinds, as well as helping with homework.
Bowman also loved the outdoors, spending much of his free time hiking. He loved the national parks and intended to volunteer when he retired. He was also a dedicated member of the Roman Catholic Church, and had been involved in teaching confirmation classes.
Friends and former classmates remember Hal Bowman as being intelligent and full of ideas, as well as a good man and a gentle soul. In addition to his two daughters, he is survived by his mother, his brother and sister and their families.