Beloved South Florida teacher dies after working at same school for 63 years

Celebration of life for Dan Leslie Bowden, 89, to be held at Ransom Everglades

COCONUT GROVE, Fla. – A beloved South Florida teacher died Friday after serving students at the same school in Coconut Grove for 63 years.

Dan Leslie Bowden, 89, was hired at Ransom Everglades School in 1955 when he was 28.

Over the decades, Bowden had held different posts at the school, teaching English for 43 years and also serving as a department head, college counselor and, most recently, adviser to the head of school, an obituary stated.

"Today we mourn the loss of an extraordinary educator and a legendary figure in our school's history," Head of School Penny Townsend said in the obituary. "Dan Leslie Bowden represented the very best in teaching and academic leadership, and he never lost his fervor for the poetry and prose that inspired him in his youth. I am grateful to have spent time in the glow of his brilliance, and only wish I had the privilege of experiencing him in the classroom."

Photo of Mr. Dan Bowden in the classroom, courtesy of Ransom Everglades.

Bowden was known by students and colleagues as a "quintessential schoolmaster" with a "passion for literature, disarming wit, melodious elocution and penchant for the dramatic," the obituary stated.

School officials said Bowden was promoted to assistant headmaster in 1961, but continued teaching English and was known for his impromptu poetry recitations in the classroom and elsewhere on campus.

According to the obituary, Bowden had a particular fondness for poet Emily Dickinson, and knew many of her works by heart.

Bowden was beloved by his former students, many of whom attended his 87th birthday party in June 2016. About 400 guests from across the country attended the celebration.

Bowden retired from teaching in 1999.

Though his visits became less frequent as his health faltered, Bowden visited Ransom Everglades in May for graduation and attended the 2018 Alumni Weekend in April. 

"At that time, he gathered with the 50th reunion class from the Ransom School, and met with the 2018 class of Bowden fellows -- student recipients of the Dan Leslie Bowden Fellowships in the Humanities," the obituary stated. "Those fellowships, established by an endowment gift from Jeffrey Miller '79, provide for summer studies in the humanities to rising seniors."

Bowden has also been immortalized through the Dan Leslie Bowden Library at the Upper School and through the Dan Leslie Bowden Chair of the English Department.

"Dan Bowden will always be the heart and soul of Ransom Everglades," Miller said in the obituary. "Through his love for his students and his inimitable classroom presence, he transformed our school and all of us who had the honor of knowing him. He will never be forgotten."

Bowden is survived by his nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, and their children. 

His funeral is scheduled to take place in his home state of Georgia. Ransom Everglades is planning a celebration of life.

In lieu of flowers, Bowden's family requests donations be directed to the Dan Leslie Bowden Endowment in the Humanities.

About the Author:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for