Last Modified: Thursday, July 10, 2014 1:27 PM
By Jim Beam / American Press
Longtime American Press Managing Editor Robert Louis “Bobby” Dower, died at 4:19 p.m. Wednesday in a local hospital.
Johnson Funeral Home will announce arrangements.
Dower, 62, joined the American Press staff in 1971 and in 1976 was promoted to sports editor. He became news editor in 1993 and managing editor in 1996.
As managing editor, he was chairman of the American Press editorial board, edited the Sunday Talk section and handled letters to the editor. Dower also helped supervise other members of the newsroom staff.
Dower had been in the hospital for two weeks after being diagnosed with stomach cancer.
Scooter Hobbs, who became sports editor after Dower, said his close friend “passed on pretty much the way he always lived — with class, contentment, acceptance and uncommon good cheer.”
Although he became an accomplished editorial and news writer, Dower never lost his love for sports. Members of the Louisiana Sportswriters Association showed up in his hospital room and presented Dower with the 2015 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism.
Officials with the association said Dower had refused for years to let them put his name on the Hall of Fame ballot, but they “waited until he was too weak to fight us on it and overruled him.”
Although he had no idea the award was in the works, Dower surprised the record 27 people in his hospital room with off-the-cuff remarks about his professional career.
Dower said his parents’ emphasis on the importance of education “led to a career that I loved. I got paid to go to sporting events. Can you imagine what that’s like for somebody who loves sports as much as I did. It’s unbelievable.”
Dower borrowed a quote from former New York Yankees great Lou Gehrig, who died from ALS.
“ ‘Today, I am the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.’ I don’t think I’ve ever written an original line, but tonight I’m the luckiest man in the world,” Dower said. “I want you all to know that and only because of the people that I have surrounding me and the people that have loved me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Dower was a 1970 graduate of Lake Charles High School, where he played drums in the Wildcat Band and ran track. He received his B.A. degree in 1974 from McNeese State University. He was active for years in Lake Charles High reunions.
Dower was a former member of First United Methodist Church of Lake Charles and was a member of its Wesleyan Hand Bell Choir from 1962 to 1971. He lived in Crowley with his wife, Ann Tobola, and was a member of the First United Methodist Church there.
During his tenure as sports editor, Dower covered four Super Bowls, one Final Four and a number of regional and national sporting events.
Dower was a big fan of the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League and recently attended their games. The jersey of Jonathan Toews, No. 19, a center for the Blackhawks, was hanging in Dower’s hospital room.
Dower was a former president of the Louisiana Sportswriters Association, on its Hall of Fame selection committee and a board member of the Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press Managing Editors Association. He was also a past president of the Advertising and Press Club of Southwest Louisiana.
Among Dower’s survivors are his wife; their children, Katherine and Hunter Dondero of Lafayette; a sister, Beverly Swanson of Austin, Texas; and two brothers, Tom F. Dower of Houston and Richard K. Dower of Rosenberg, Texas.
Posted By: Ginger Durrett On: 7/12/2014
Mr. Beam, I was so, so sorry to find Scooter's wonderful column about Bobby on my Facebook feed yesterday. He was just wonderful to me during my brief time at the American Press. Tell Scooter that he just absolutely nailed it. I remember him asking me about restaurants in Monroe - he was headed to a collegiate basketball tournament at ULM - and I told him not to miss Johnny's Pizza. He came back to the newsroom just raving about it.
I live in Cumming, GA now, near my children, and have retired. I have such wonderful memories from my days at the Press - the best newsroom I ever worked in. Please give my love to my friends still there, and extend my sincerest sympathy to Bobby's family. We were all blessed to have known him.
Posted By: Joe Conway On: 7/11/2014
Title: We need more newspaper editors like Bobby Dower
Bobby Dower will be missed. For what it is worth, here is my tribute to Bobby -- Joe Conway