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Rex J. Bowser

February 5, 2018

Rex Bowser graduated from Ridgewood High School, Ridgewood, New Jersey and entered Yale in 1962. He majored in history, was a member of Branford College, active in Alpha Phi Omega, and a midshipman in the NROTC. Upon graduation Rex became a commissioned officer in the US Navy, where he applied for, and was accepted, into the nuclear submarine force. He was regarded by everyone, without exception, as a good friend, uncommonly loyal, and uniquely insightful. If anyone ever saw Rex without an ear-to-ear smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, that person is not known.

While in the Navy, Rex served on nuclear submarines as a Nuclear Engineer and Poseidon Navigator, perhaps the only liberal arts history major to be interviewed, accepted, and trained into that elite service by Admiral Rickover himself. Then followed eighteen months of demanding training in nuclear power and computers, with very few hours to be called his own. Rex modestly proposes that his selection to stay in nuclear submarines, after completing training, was (since he was a history major) simply a means by Rickover to prove and validate the training system itself. In 1971 Rex received an MS degree from the Naval Post-Graduate School in Computer Sciences Management. Rex joined the Navy looking for adventure, and he did have adventures. His tour of duty on board the USS Dace, its operations until recently being highly classified, included spying on the USSR during the Cold War. Once, after being detected by a Russian submarine, the Dace narrowly escaped capture by sprinting and hiding under the arctic ice pack at the North Pole! Then, too, while stationed aboard the Dace, Rex continued to cultivate his liberal arts roots. At the request of the crew, Rex taught an American History course.

Rex had a successful career in the Navy, achieving accomplishments based on individual responsibility, and qualities of courage, wisdom, faith, and sound reasoning; but, in 1974, Rex left the Navy because for him it had changed too much in a wrong direction. As he put it, “cookbooks replaced thinking, and career and fear replaced both courage and wisdom.”

When he left the Navy, Rex first took jobs with a couple of industrial companies, but in 1978 he returned to public service, working for the Department of Energy in Germantown, Maryland. He stayed thirty years until retiring in 2008. His most satisfying work after the Navy, however, was volunteering at the National Archives in Washington DC where he worked on a project reading and microfilming the service records of 183,000+ United States Colored Troops (USCT), going back to the Civil War.

Rex married Maryln Louise Saxman in December 1983. They did not have children, but Rex leaves many extended family members, a brother, brothers-in-law, nieces, and nephews. Rex and Maryln retired to Chocowinity, NC in 2008. He died February 5, 2018 after a courageous struggle with cancer. Rex is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.

Cameron Smith