Near-fatal crash hospitalizes COCC instructor
After a near-fatal bicycle accident on Oct. 19, Gary Bowne, Theater Arts instructor at Central Oregon Community College, is on the road to recovery, according to his step-daughter Kellie Jones. “We’re lucky he’s still with us,” said Jones.
Bowne was riding his bicycle on Highway 242 in his hometown of Sisters when a motorist struck him after he made an unexpected left turn into traffic. He was airlifted to St. Charles Medical Center where he remained in the intensive care unit for three days.
COCC Theater and Speech Instructor Lilli Ann Linford-Foreman has known him for the past 23 years. A former student of hers, Bowne acted in the first play by COCC’s first student theater group. She will be taking over Bowne’s Theatre I class for the remainder of the term.
Bowne has also left an influence on Central Oregon’s community theater.
He taught in the theater department at Sisters High School for the past four years, co-founded the Americana Project, an educational outreach program of the Sisters Folk Festival working with Sisters High School to promote participation in their theater program, and serves as the artistic director of Bend Theatre for Young People, a local non-profit theater.
Bowne is a driving force in the Sisters Folk Festival as well. His band, The Pitchtones, performs regularly at the fair. Festival Executive Director Brad Tisdel got to know Bowne through the Americana Project, which Tisdel co-founded.
Bowne lost his health insurance three weeks before the accident due to budget cuts in the Sisters School District. According to Tisdel, the Sisters community is coming together to support Bowne.
A benefit concert was held at this Sister High School auditorium, Oct. 30. Local performers included The Pitchtones, the Anvil Blasters and musicians Dennis McGregor, Brad Tisdel, Travis Ehrenstrom and Laura Curtis. A silent auction of art pieces also raised money for Bowne.
“It’s the Sisters community rallying to support a friend in need,” Tisdel said.
According to Tisdel, Bowne is currently conscious and speaking. “He’s recovering remarkably well,” Tisdel said.
Lindford-Foreman and Pat Erwert, lead singer of The Pitchtones, recently visited Bowne in the hospital. Ewert brought his guitar and sang to Bowne.
During their visit, Bowne was “very much himself,” said Linford-Foreman. “He harmonized with Erwert and encouraged his other visitors to join in.”
Evin McCain, a history and journalism major from Sisters, said when Sister’s High School considered letting Bowne go due to budget cuts, he received an influx of support from the students.
“The [Sisters High School] kids looked up to him and stood up for him,” McCain said.
Donations can be made in the name of Gary M. Bowne at the Bank of the Cascades.
You can contact Alyssa Wilder at firstname.lastname@example.org.