A potluck celebration will be held for Jon C. Bower on October 5th, at 3:00 p.m. at his home at 650 Grand Ave. in Mancos, CO. After the celebration and dinner there will be a campfire for those who wish to stay late.
Jon Campsey "Nightsinger" Bower was born in Denver, CO on March 27, 1946, and adopted shortly thereafter by his loving parents Donald and Priscilla Bower. Being raised by a master librarian mother, an author/editor father, and a western historian grandfather, Jon's literary education began early and was extensive. Some of his favorite childhood memories were watching western movies from the safety of his grandfather's lap, vacationing at Colorado dude ranches, being spoiled by his Nana, and riding bicycles with friends around the foothills near Littleton, conquering dangerous, imaginary foes.
Jon received his grade school education in the Denver public schools but soon his parents agreed he needed a greater challenge and made the difficult decision to send him to live in Steamboat Springs and attend Whiteman School. It was then that Jon was afforded the opportunities to travel to Mexico and to Spain and to establish a lifelong bond with his instructor and dear friend, Wayne Kakela. Looking back, Jon said it was this time in his life that made the greatest overall impression. The exemplary education Jon received at Whiteman prepared him to later be chosen to teach a course in Spanish Colonialism when his professor left unexpectedly, and, while majoring in English at Mesa College, to not only see to his own classwork, but to earn his spending money writing other student's term papers.
Living in Steamboat gave Jon the chance to live out a childhood dream of bein' a cowboy and bring forth from memory all his favorite lines from his childhood western heroes. He delighted in the salty language and humor that he shared with the ranchers with whom he worked, up the Elk River valley north of Steamboat. Tragically his dream was cut short when he and his horse "had a disagreement" and the injuries incurred eventually led to permanent paraplegia. From that time on Jon would warn that horses were "dumb on one end and dangerous on the other"
Never wanting to succumb to being "handicapped," a word and concept he loathed, Jon forged on through this difficult transition with friends who not only emotionally carried him, but at times, literally carried him through. His signature, cynical sense of humor was honed through the new challenges he faced and his indomitable spirit developed a new focus. Jon had god-given talents that had, to this point, been mere hobbies.
Jon was an artist. His endeavors included cartooning and caricatures, both for his personal enjoyment and for the Steamboat Pilot newspaper for which he drew the editorial cartoons for 11 years. He also did scrimshaw on powder horns, a cribbage board, and jewelry that he crafted himself and beadwork on leather clothing he made for mountain man rendezvous that he loved to attend. His talents were abundant, but undoubtedly, what he was known best for was his beautiful voice and his hard strumming guitar skills that earned him the rendezvous nickname "Nightsinger," as generations of listeners for decades, gathered around his campfires and listened to him passionately sing til dawn.
While playing at Francisco's in Durango, Jon met his future wife Anna Poulson and together they had two beautiful sons. Their eldest Campsey, was born in Steamboat in 1975 and the younger Travis, in 1979. The boys have many stories of being raised by such a talented, eccentric father and the many ways they adapted to his physical limitations.
The humble life of an artist was clearly not going to "feed the bulldog," as Jon would say, in regards to taking care of his family, so he took a job at the then young industrial construction company in Steamboat, TIC. He was a quick study and was able to move through several jobs in the company but the one that best suited him was Communications Director, in which he wrote all of the company's newsletters and safety manuals. It wasn't the creative writing with which he was so adept, but he made it fun for all with his wit and his exemplary command of the English language.
Though Jon worked at TIC for over 32 years, his coworkers will probably remember him most fondly for when he wasn't working. Above all, Jon was a prankster, and the many people who he met and developed close friendships with at TIC were the recipients of countless, masterfully planned pranks. Later on, it was this part of his TIC experience that he missed most.
In 1995 Jon left his longtime home of Steamboat Springs and moved to Mancos, CO to marry his longtime friend and soulmate Janice Hall. Thrilled to now have a daughter, he and Janice together raised her daughter Amanda "Mandy" Engel in this small town that he often described as being "like Steamboat in the old days."
In Mancos he will be remembered for his performances at the Millwood Follies, Farmers Markets and other town events, as well as his time serving on the Mancos school board, and of course, his very scary characters that he delighted in donning on Halloween to scare the trick-or-treaters who dared come to his door.
For the last 12 years Jon had struggled with multiple health issues that restricted his life greatly. It was during this time that he learned how valuable social media could be to him. He reveled in the opportunity to share on Moses on the Mesa, his vast knowledge of Native American history as well as his concern for the current travesties being perpetrated on their land, their rights, their women, and also the complete disregard from those poised in the positions to help them most. His political views were well known and social media helped him to stay connected to the people and issues for which he cared most. He was also able to resume relationships with friends who had long since lost touch and to establish new friendships from the confines of his home.
We would be remiss if we didn’t give a shout-out to his many devoted doctors and caregivers over the years. Many of you became valued friends and we loved you and I continue to appreciate your selfless commitment to the health and wellbeing of those who need you most. Jon loved you dearly, you know who you are.
Jon is survived by his wife Janice Hall; sister Laurel Behles of Albuquerque, NM; sons, Cam of Visalia, CA, Travis and wife Hayley of Pagosa Springs, CO, and daughter Mandy Engel of Atlanta, GA; grandchildren, Spencer Thorne, Natalie Bower, and Griffin Bower; nieces Jamie Hall, Anna Caplan; nephew Casey Hall; and twin great nephews. In recent years Jon learned of his family of origin of whom there are far too many to name and most of whom remained strangers to him, but who he loved in spirit from the time he learned of them.