Deb Bowman, 65

Deb Bowman dedicated her life to family, friends, and working to improve the lives of South Dakotans.

Deb passed away peacefully on Sept 17, 2019 in Pierre, South Dakota, surrounded by her family. Originally diagnosed with cancer four years ago, Deb’s husband, family and friends ensured she had a wonderful life while battling this disease. Her husband Randy, the love of her life, cared for her lovingly for many years.

Deb and Randy raised two beautiful girls, Brooke Ellen Templeton (LeeJay) and Jessamine Rose Bowman (Rob). Their six grandchildren, Georgianna, Jesse, Ireland, Carter, Mason and Lawson have brought them much joy.

Deb had a kidney transplant in 2000 and her experience meeting and befriending other patients at the transplant house in Rochester, MN made her a strong advocate for organ donation. Turning her experience into policy she created the South Dakota Donor Registry law. Living her beliefs, she donated her corneas at the end of her life.

After graduating from Dakota State University, Deb devoted her life to public service and worked passionately to improve the lives of all South Dakotans. Deb served as the Executive Director of ECCO in Madison from 1978 until 1991 before transitioning to her career in South Dakota state government. During her time at ECCO, Deb learned sign language so she could communicate with people served who were deaf or hard of hearing. Deb served as Director of The Division of Developmental Disabilities, prior to joining the Governor’s office staff under Governor William J. Janklow in 1996. She served as Senior Advisor to Governors Janklow, Rounds and Daugaard. She also served as Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Social Services under Governor Rounds.

During her tenure with the Office of the Governor, Deb worked on developing and implementing a number of key projects including: The Children’s Health Insurance Program, the South Dakota Risk Pool, and the Bright Start program.

Following September 11, 2001, Deb was appointed to serve as South Dakota’s first Director of Homeland Security.

The Bowman family thanks all the medical professionals and staff who helped Deb live a wonderful life despite her ongoing health issues.

In addition to her husband, daughters, and grandchildren, Deb is survived by her sisters Dawn Doering-Suter (David), Gayla Kruse (Don), and Mary Halter, her brother John Doering, extended family, and innumerable friends.

Deb was preceded in death by her father George, mother Ellen, brother Ron, and grandson Jesse.

Deb’s great strength, passion, and heart will be deeply missed. Memorials will be dedicated by the family to causes Deb believed in.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at 11:00 A.M. at First United Methodist Church in Pierre, South Dakota.

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