BRANDON, FL — Brandon is mourning the loss of a longtime businessman known for his generosity and devotion to his community. Lifelong resident Dick Stowers died Wednesday, Jan. 9, at the age of 89.
Stowers grew up in the area, attending Palm River Elementary School and graduating from Brandon High School in 1947.
After graduating from the Dallas Institute Gupton Jones College of Mortuary Science in 1959, he purchased one of Brandon’s few remaining landmarks, the antebellum home on Brandon Boulevard built by James Henry Brandon, son of the community’s founder, John Brandon, in 1876.
During interviews, Stowers recalled that the home was in poor condition when he purchased it in 1960. He set about repairing and renovating it, careful to preserve the home’s original millwork, heart-of-pine floors and crown moulding.
He decorated the converted funeral home with period Victorian furnishings and historic artifacts from the community’s past, including items that belonged to John and Victoria Brandon. The home is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Stowers went on to open a number of other successful funeral homes before retiring.
There are few nonprofit organizations or business and civic groups in Brandon that Stowers wasn’t involved in during the past 60 years.
Stowers is credited with establishing the community’s first ambulance service and was instrumental in the founding of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Brandon, Brandon Hospital, the Bank of Riverview, the Brandon Elks Club and the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. He served as the president of the chamber as well as president of Roundtable Charities of Greater Brandon (which organized the annual Fourth of July parade) and honorary mayor of Brandon.
Well-known for his philanthropy, there is hardly an organization in Brandon that Stowers didn’t have a hand in getting off the ground, including the Brandon Emergency Care Help Organization, Center Place fine arts and civic association, the original Brandon library and the Brandon Outreach Clinic.
He was the first to step forward when the high school’s band needed to raise money for a trip to England and when a sports team needed help getting to an out-of-state tournament. He was especially proud of the fact that he provided ambulance service to every Brandon High School football game from 1961 to 1978. When the county was considering tearing down Brandon School, now McLane Junior High School, he was among the first to step up to raise funds to preserve the historic building.
Beyond Brandon, Stowers was a member of the Egypt Temple Shrine, Tampa Historical Society, Tampa and Ybor City Street Railway Society and was past master of the Palma Ceia Masonic Lodge.
He also established the Stowers Restorative Art Laboratory at St. Pete Junior College.
Of all the projects he and his wife of 35 years, Raymetta, were involved in, the Boys & Girls Club held a special place in Stowers’ heart. He was instrumental in opening Brandon’s first club, named for longtime friend, Brandon cattle rancher Bill Carey.
After the Brandon club was established, he turned his attention toward raising funds for the Riverview Boys & Girls Club. And, most recently, the Stowers joined longtime friends and fellow philanthropists Cy and Joanne Spurlino and Joe and Ann Garcia in funding a club in Wimauma.
Known for his corny jokes and outgoing nature, Stowers was popular with both children and adults. Raymetta Stowers often said her husband never met a stranger and teased him about having to physically pull him away from conversations or he would talk all night.
Although he never sought recognition, Raymetta Stowers said he was thrilled when the Hillsborough County School Board named Stowers Elementary School in FishHawk Ranch in his honor in 2008. He relished his visits to the school and meeting the students there.
Other honors he received include the Alice B. Tompkins Community Service Award presented by Roundtable Charities, the Soaring Eagle Distinguished Citizen Award presented by the Gulf Ridge Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Key Citizen Award, presented by the chamber.
He also held the titles of Brandon Business Person of the Year and Brandon Man of the Year, received the Pride in Brandon Award and was inducted into the Brandon High School Hall of Fame.
He is survived by his wife; his son, Kevin Talbert, and daughters, Kellie Kintz (Tom) and Kimberly Kimbrel; grandchildren, Caitlin, Megan, Kate, Callie and Jack; daughters, Cynthia Stowers, Marsha Riddle and Cathy Stowers; grandchildren, Jonathan (Caroline), Chris (Melissa), Lisa, Olivia (Christian), and Andrew (Chris); and 11 great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life will be conducted on Saturday, Jan. 12, at 1 p.m. with the family receiving friends from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at New Hope United Methodist Church.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Brandon Boys & Girls Club, 213 Knights Ave., Brandon, FL 33510 or the Riverview Boys & Girls Club, 6808 Krycul Ave., Riverview, FL 33578.
Southern Funeral Care is in charge of arrangements. Those wishing to post a message of tribute can click here.
Imagea via Linda Chion Kenney
Michelle Hernández thanks Dick Stowers for supporting her campaign for honorary mayor of Brandon.
Dick Stowers poses with longtime friend Earl Lennard.
Dick Stowers accepts the Soaring Eagle Distinguished Citizen Award
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