Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dan Bowman Lights Up A New Documentary

photo courtesy film producer Shaun Wright
Blind since age 12, Daniel Bowman is truly a legend in his own time.

He is now mostly retired, but during his 76 busy years he's earned an enviable reputation, first as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, then as a local piano tech and furniture craftsman, and always as an unforgettably engaging human being.

Two associate professors in JMU's School of Media Arts and Design believe it's time the rest of the world learns more about his story.

Mike Grundmann and Shaun Wright have produced a half-hour documentary on Bowman titled "A Good Blinder" that will be shown at the Court Square Theater in Harrisonburg at 7 pm Tuesday, January 31, along with the premier showings of two other short films recently released by members of the same JMU department. Having known Dan as a fellow student at EMU and as a valued community neighbor, I am really looking forward to attending this event. Admission is free.

I've always been amazed at Dan's talents as an accomplished organist and pianist and as an expert in tuning instruments, as well as his amazing skills as a craftsman. Some of the results of his woodworking hobby have raised a total of $12,500 at the annual Mennonite Relief Sales held at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds each fall. One of his wooden marble rollers alone brought $3700 at one of the auctions. Currently Dan is working on a model of a grist mill with a water wheel, complete with moving wooden parts.

At midlife, Dan added a second masters degree to his resume, an MDiv from Eastern Mennonite Seminary, reflecting his deeply held faith and his commitment as an active lay leader at his church, Ridgeway Mennonite.

His daughter Diane notes, "Many local pastors have enjoyed conversations with this theologically trained piano tuner!" Mike Grundmann, one of the producers of the documentary, states, "He still has all ten fingers, a lively wit and theologically trained mind that makes for profound reflection."

Dan and Ferne Bowman have three grown daughters and six grandchildren, and Ferne has recently published a memoir of her life titled Song of the Redwing Blackbird--An Amish Mennonite Girl Grows Up, which can be ordered at

Here's a link to the 26-minute documentary I just got back from a meeting in which Dan and his documentary producer spoke.

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