Scholarships for veterans

Friday February 19 2010


Dr. John D. Bower, a 1957 graduate of Lynchburg College, has given $250,000 to his alma mater to establish a scholarship for veterans. Dr. Bower has also issued a challenge grant for veterans' scholarship support, promising another $250,000 when donors match that amount. Lynchburg College will then create a veterans center at the College.

Dr. Bower, a retired physician renowned for his pioneering work with kidney disease and dialysis, served for four years in the U.S. Navy before attending Lynchburg College. He graduated in 1957 after only two and a half years.

"After four years of being totally dependent on the military, my apprehension of facing the reality of self-reliance in civilian life was devastating," Dr. Bower said. "I was incapacitated by my insecurity. The Lynchburg College faculty sensed this and provided tremendous support. They were willing to modify their curriculum to meet my personal needs. This unprecedented support and understanding allowed me to complete four years of college in two and a half years and to be accepted into medical school. Other veterans should have this same opportunity to pursue their education."

LC President Kenneth Garren said, "Dr. Bower made a major contribution to the medical community through his extensive research and application of this research of the kidney. Now, he has made yet another major contribution through his financial gift, thus exhibiting his huge heart in support of our honored and worthy veterans who, by virtue of their devoted service to this country, have earned a tuition-free education at Lynchburg College."

The Dr. John D. Bower Veterans Scholarship Fund will provide annual scholarships to eligible veteran students with a 3.0 GPA or higher, with first preference to those pursing degrees in science at LC.

Once the fund reaches $750,000 or more, the Dr. John D. Bower Veterans Advocacy Center will be established to provide resources, computers, special program events, and an environment that aids veterans as they transition from military to academic life and then to professional and civilian life.

The center will also work with the LC Veterans Taskforce Committee to expedite enrollment and other college services, and will provide military awareness training to faculty, staff, and the campus community to honor and assist veterans.

After completing his medical degree at Medical College of Virginia in 1961, Dr. Bower did his internship at the University of Virginia and then returned to Medical College of Virginia to complete an Internal Medicine Residency and a Nephrology Fellowship. He worked with Dr. David Hume at the Medical College of Virginia doing kidney transplant research. Dr. Bower also worked with Dr. Belding Scribner in Seattle, Washington on research and development of hemodialysis, commonly called dialysis.

In 1965 Dr. Bower began his career at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. Here he worked with Dr. Arthur Guyton in animal research in hypertension using the human model of chronic renal disease. In 1966 Dr. Bower received one of 13 public health service grants to test the therapeutic efficacy  of a then-emerging technique - hemodialysis. His work contributed to the understanding of the life-saving technology. Based on the results of this research, Congress approved dialysis and kidney transplant to treat end-stage renal disease under the umbrella of Medicare.

In 1973, Dr. Bower established Kidney Care Inc., a nonprofit that grew into 28 dialysis units in three states with more than 1,800 patients and 750 professional staff members. In 1996, his nonprofit corporation merged with several other dialysis facilities to form Renal Care Group Inc. Dr. Bower served on the Board of Directors. In 1996 he established the Bower Foundation with the mission to improve health care in Mississippi.

Dr. Bower retired in 2000 from the Department of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center after more than 35 years of research, teaching, and providing patient care. As chief of nephrology, he trained more than 50 doctors in the field.

A native of Bedford, Va., Dr. Bower established the Bower Center for the Arts in Bedford to honor his parents, Minnie, a registered nurse and an avid gardener, and Mitchell, a local businessman, former mayor, and tenor in the Bedford Presbyterian Church Choir. 

Dr. Bower and Edna Curry live in Brandon, Mississippi. They enjoy their 14 grandchildren and one great grandchild. Dr. Bower continues to care for a limited number of renal patients and works toward the pursuit of a national health program for all Americans.

For more information, contact Shannon Brennan, director of media relations, at 434-544-8609.