On Nov. 28, a local hero died here in North Bend. He was my literature professor 29 years ago when I was 18. At that time, I had absolutely no self-esteem and felt trapped in an abusive marriage. Bob saw the light in me when I had no idea it was there. His belief in me helped me escape that nightmare marriage, graduate as valedictorian from SWOCC and go on to UO.

He became a benevolent father-figure to me, which was a saving grace in my life. Many other men had been 'nice' to me over the years, but it had been 'special' treatment because I was a young blonde. Bob was different. He treated all those around him with supportive love. He never grabbed, demeaned, or took advantage. When he became a dean at Southwestern Oregon Community College, he used his power to bring more joy and good into the world and never harm.

Bob Bower was one of the first people to hold my son when he was born. He loved him as if he was his own son and the two of them shared a life-long bond. Our sons grew up as best friends. He was the first man to demonstrate pure love to me, which changed my view of men for the rest of my life. Any man who has been blessed by my friendship and love can thank Bob for his part in opening my heart.

Many men have done great harm. Bob is a man who did great good. He will be greatly missed, and he will live on in the hearts of the hundreds of people he changed with his love.

I won't be able to attend his memorial because I will be teaching a weekend workshop in Portland on that day and the date can't be changed. I know Bob would be proud of me for leading this class. In a way, he will be there with me as I lead, and any good I do will be, in part, to his credit.

Eternal thanks, Bob, for being a good man.

Lynnet McKenzie

Coos Bay