"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." - Isaiah 40:31
Bobby Joe McDowell, a servant, scholar, and leader, was born on July 4, 1939, to the late Hayles and Ozelia McDowell in Gaffney, South Carolina. He was seventh of ten children, all of whom preceded him in death.
From a young age, Bobby's faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was unwavering, and he was baptized at Concord Baptist Church in Gaffney, South Carolina, where he also later served as Sunday School Superintendent and Deacon. Most recently, he continued his path as a man of God serving as a 28-year member of East Mount Zion Baptist Church and became an integral part of its leadership until his passing. Bobby's dedication was evident as he served as Chairman of the Deacon Board, Chairman of the Bylaws Committee, President of the Brotherhood Ministry, a Sunday School teacher, a member of the Male Chorus, Chairman of the Pastoral Search Committee, and a regular Bible Study participant.
Bobby dedicated his career to education-both while learning as a student and then a commitment to teaching others. He grew up working on his family's farm, and his formative years included attending a segregated one room schoolhouse. Bobby pursued higher education at Benedict College, where he obtained his B.S. in Mathematics. He was twice recognized for inclusion in Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges and graduated cum laude. During his time as a student leader at Benedict, Bobby participated in the sit-in movement, marching to desegregate restaurants in Columbia, South Carolina.
Following his undergraduate studies, Bobby embarked on a career as a math teacher in South Carolina. Upon relocating to Cleveland, he pursued and earned a master's degree in Mathematics and Administration from Kent State University. Throughout his 40-year professional journey, Bobby climbed the ranks, assuming various administrative positions, ultimately becoming an Assistant Principal, Principal, and Director of Adult & Continuing Education. He retired as Principal from West Technical High School.
Bobby's leadership and service was also exemplified via his membership in Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, to which he was initiated through Epsilon Epsilon Chapter on December 6, 1958, at Benedict College. As a celebrated member of the fraternity for over 60 years, he achieved remarkable accomplishments. He served as the President of Zeta Omega Chapter in Cleveland and received recognition as the Fourth District Graduate Chapter President of the Year. The Fourth District also honored him by renaming the Budget & Finance Committee to the Brother Bobby J. McDowell Budget & Finance Committee.
His exceptional aptitude for efficiency, planning, and processes led Bobby to become a Registered Parliamentarian®. He actively contributed to the field as a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians, utilizing his expertise to benefit numerous organizations, including serving as the National Missionary Baptist Convention's Parliamentarian.
Additionally, Bobby's passion for entrepreneurship led him to become a realtor and real estate broker, and he graciously mentored others in pursuing their dreams in the field. Bobby founded BJ McDowell Realty LLC and was actively involved in real estate sales and property management.
He loved to travel, was an excellent cook, loved playing the trumpet, and was a faithful fan of the Cleveland Browns. He also cherished being a member of the Greater Cleveland National Pan-Hellenic Choir and being able to share the stage with his daughter, Barbara.
On Saturday, May 6, 2023, Bobby departed this earthly life. In addition to his parents and siblings, he was preceded in death by his wife, Ida McDowell. He is survived by his former wife, Fannie McDowell; their children, Barbara McDowell, and Audrey McDowell; his son Robert Neal Jefferies (Leecie); one grandchild; three great-grandchildren; as well as nieces, nephews, and dear family friends. Bobby's absence leaves a void that will be felt every day, but his legacy of service, scholarship, and leadership, will continue to inspire and uplift those who follow in his footsteps.
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