Since moving to Penobscot with his wife, Margaret, almost 47 years ago, Paul Bowen has served the town in different capacities, including 26 years as a selectman. He believes that such community service is important.
“I’ve always felt if there were opportunity to do so, I should give back to the community I live in,” he said. “I feel most people have something to contribute to these small towns.”
Bowen grew up in Hampden and spent three years at Hampden Academy before his family moved to Vermont. After graduating from Danville High School, he attended Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University) in downtown Montreal.
There he studied American history and philosophy, “the two things I was interested in at the time.”
Bowen later attended the Boston University School of Theology “for 3½ years, not at all the same time,” before graduating in 1970 with a master’s degree in theology. Thinking about his college education, he smiled and said, “None of these are prerequisites for being a selectman in the town of Penobscot.”
Ordained a Methodist minister, Bowen served (along with another minister) Methodist churches in Bucksport, East Bucksport, North Bucksport and Orland for two years.
He and Margaret moved to a farm on the Back Ridge Road in North Penobscot “in the fall of ’72” and raised their children, Stephen and Jennifer, there. “We farmed for the next 22 years,” Bowen said. “We raised broilers until 1981, when the business started to go” under in Maine and eventually went away altogether.
“Then we milked [Holstein] cows until 1994” and sold the milk to Hancock County Creamery in Ellsworth, he recalled. With dairies consolidating or closing and the demand for milk dropping, “we sold most of the herd, kept some young stock.”
Bowen opened Island Automotive on Verona Island and ran that business until selling it in 2010 to Kenneth Stone, “who worked for me.”
“I still work on cars, which I do at home now, mostly family” vehicles, Bowen said. “We all tend to buy older cars and keep them running.”
He served three terms on the Penobscot School Board in the late 1970s and early 1980s. After running successfully for selectman in 1989, he served three terms and “got off for four years. I was asked to come back,” so he ran for election again.
Bowen served continuously on the board (including as its chairman at times) before stepping down with the March 2019 town election. “This is a nice town to live in,” he said. “I’m glad I’ve been able to serve the people living here.”
Paul and Margaret enjoy spending time with their grandchildren. They also like to sail.
“We keep our nice old Albin 34 … a boat you can spend some time on, nicely equipped for cruising” at Stockton Springs and go sailing in Maine waters “in the warm weather, Bowen said. “We still own a farm essentially, so I have plenty of work to do” around their home, which encompasses “30 acres of open land and 20 acres of woods.”
“There’s some work taking care of that,” Bowen said. “Finding things to do is never a problem.”
He and Margaret have “a small fifth-wheel camper that we pull with an old Ford truck. We like to go south after the Town Meeting [in March] and stay where it’s warm for about four weeks.”
Margaret Bowen hails from Canada, and she and Paul also go camping in Nova Scotia and elsewhere in Canada. The Bowens have two grandchildren.