$1.25 million for veterans

John BowerLynchburg College has met a second $250,000 challenge grant issued last Veterans Day by Dr. John D. Bower, a 1957 graduate whose gifts and challenges have raised $1.25 million for veteran scholarships and services at LC.

After a moving Veterans Day service on Monday, Dr. Bower (at right in photo) presented his matching check to President Kenneth Garren. “I am deeply indebted to Lynchburg College,” Dr. Bower said.

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Under the endowed fund established by Dr. Bower, two-thirds of the annual income goes toward the Dr. John D. Bower Veterans Scholarship, which provides support to eligible veteran students with a 3.0 GPA or higher, with first preference to those pursuing degrees in science at LC.

The remaining third of the annual income will go toward the Dr. John D. Bower Veterans Advocacy Center and Lounge to be located in the expanded student center scheduled to open in fall 2014. Dr. Bower has given an additional $200,000 to name the veterans center.

A dedicated team of “flag bearer volunteers,” composed primarily of LC alumni veterans, helped lead the effort to match Dr. Bower’s challenge grants.

Dr. Bower, a Bedford, Va. native and retired physician renowned for his pioneering work with kidney disease and dialysis, served for four years in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War before attending Lynchburg College. He completed his bachelor’s degree in only two and a half years, graduating in 1957.

He completed his medical degree at Medical College of Virginia in 1961, graduating eighth out of a class of 110. He worked with early pioneers in kidney transplants and hemodialysis, commonly called dialysis.

In 1965 Dr. Bower began his career at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Jackson, Miss. A year later he received one of 13 public health service grants to test dialysis.

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 he established the Bower Foundation with the mission to improve health care in Mississippi, where he still resides.

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.

Closer to home, Dr. Bower established the Bower Center for the Arts in Bedford, Va. 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 continues to work toward the pursuit of a national health program for all Americans, saying that health care should be an inalienable right.