Longtime Public Figure Kathryn Bowers Dies

Former legislator and ex-Democratic chair had a career of many distinctions and one misfortune.


Kahryn Bowers, second from left, mourned the passing in 2013 of Minerva Johnican. - JB
  • JB
  • Kahryn Bowers, second from left, mourned the passing in 2013 of Minerva Johnican.

In 2013, former state Representative and state Senator Kathryn Bowers (second from left, flanked by Hazel Moore, then Judge Karen Williams, and Congressman Steve Cohen) was one of four official “commenters” at funeral services for veteran Shelby County office-holder Minerva Johnican.

Bowers’ own death, at the age of 72, was announced on Thursday, and the former legislator and ex-chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party was remembered this way by current SCDP chair Randa Spears:

“The Shelby County Democratic Party wishes to express our sincere sadness and condolences for the passing of the Honorable Kathryn Bowers. She was an outstanding and dedicated public servant. We suffer the loss of a great Democrat. At this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with Kathryn’s family, friends and those who served beside her.”

9th District Rep. Cohen had this to say: “Kathryn Bowers was a great warrior for justice and fairness and for Memphis. She served more than a decade in the Tennessee General Assembly as a state representative and state senator and was always right on the issues. She was a tireless advocate for women, the poor and underserved, and those not represented by powerful interest groups. She was not afraid to speak truth to power. Kathryn was a friend who will be sorely missed by many.”

Other condolences are sure to follow.

Bowers’ political career included many distinctions and one misfortune — her conviction for bribery in the 2005 “Tennessee Waltz” sting conducted by the FBI in Nashville. Arrested only days after being sworn in as a state Senator, she ultimately pleaded guilty and served a brief prison term.

Upon her release, Bowers kept a low profile but quietly resumed a round of civiic and charitable activities.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

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