Ruth Bowman
1951 - 2021
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Ruth Ann Bowman, 69 years old, of Lawrence, KS, passed away on Saturday, May 22nd at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City after a struggle with a reoccurrence of cancer.

She was born in Cleveland, Ohio to James and Mabel (Bartels) Bowman

on September 14th, 1951. They both predecease her. She graduated from Cleveland Heights High School in 1969, received a BFA in Sculpture from The Cleveland Institute of Art in 1974, an MFA in Textile Design from The University of Kansas in 1982, and taught in Art and Design at KU for 41 years.

Having the opportunity to travel for extended periods of time in Europe, North and Central America, and the Middle East, Ruth visited major museums, galleries, and archaeological sites. These experiences were formative and enhanced her insights as both an artist and professor.

Ruth adored her family, she loved to cook and entertain; but above all, she was passionate about teaching. It was her calling. She was an exceptional teacher and mentor and had an immense impact on countless freshman students who branched out into many disciplines. She oversaw and mentored the graduate TA's as well as young colleagues in the large 2-D Foundations program in Fine Art. She was always eager to share in order to help make her colleagues and GTAs better teachers. In all, she taught at KU as a Teaching Assistant and Lecturer in the Department of Design (in the School of Fine Arts), and then as a tenured Professor in the Department of Visual Art (in the School of the Arts, part of the College of Liberal Arts and Science). She never stopped developing her pedagogical strategies, and her classes continually metamorphized to meet changing thought within the fine and applied arts disciplines. She was a compassionate but demanding teacher. Her students absolutely adored her.

Ruth was also an amazing artist. Her beautifully made work came from the heart. It is intimate and powerful. Combining impeccable craft, mixed media and personal narrative the work is thoughtful and evocative. Ruth made poetry out of the physical.

We will carry on the tradition of one of Ruth's greatest joys- listening to people's stories. Ruth loved everyone's stories and wove them all into her own cascading narrative encompassing memory, time, art, food, travel, relationships, and the human experience in general. Ruth eagerly listened to people's stories in a way that made one feel affirmed and loved, and by this curious and tender nature she made friends everywhere she went.

Ruth is survived by her son, Karl Havener, and her three sisters: Jane Smith, Mary (Kenneth) Loparo, and Lois Bowman (Tom Canale). She also leaves behind a group of devastated friends and colleagues who will miss her kindness, enthusiasm, and knowledge.

A memorial gathering is being planned in Lawrence at a later date for friends, family, and students to celebrate Ruth's life.

Ruth will be buried at the historic Pioneer Cemetery on KU's campus. Arrangements are by Warren-McElwain Mortuary.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to KU Endowment in support of the Ruth Bowman Award. Please make note that your gift is in memory of Ruth Bowman. Send donations to KU Endowment, P.O. Box 928, Lawrence, KS 66044 or give online at or may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

The family wishes to extend our sincere thanks to Kelsey Yankey, Cima Katz, and Mary Anne Jordan for their loving support to Ruth and Karl during this tragic time.

For more information or to post a condolence go to

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Lawrence Journal-World on May 30, 2021.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
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3 entries
June 4, 2021
Karl so sorry about your mom. I will miss our over the side yard talks with Ruth and could find laughter in all daily life. If I can help please ask. Again I am so sorry.
Brenda Gale Allen
May 30, 2021
Ruth was my design professor in 2000. She acted both as a teacher of function and form but also as an extended parent for freshmen students overwhelmed with the changes college brings. Even though you may have had only had one course with her, she would remember you throughout your stay at the art and design building. I am currently using what she taught in my career every day, and in a sense she lives on through all her students.
May 30, 2021
My sympathies Karl on the loss of your mom. I have wonderful memories of being young mothers together with you boys running around. My granddaughter is still enjoying the Super’girl’ capes your mom made for you,Sam and Matthew. Take care.
MaryNell Gleeson
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