Richard (Dick) Dowker passed away peacefully at home on June 29th in the loving care of his family and Hospice of Jefferson County.
Dick was born in Mannsville, NY, on July 13, 1936, to William and Aletha Chrisman Dowker. The oldest of three children, he graduated from Union Academy, Belleville in 1954 where he studied agriculture and played varsity baseball and football. He was also a member of the wrestling team. He grew up on his family’s dairy farm in Butterville, NY, and was a passionate and active member of the 4-H, the FFA and the Smithville Grange. He was a recipient of the American Farmer Degree, the highest achievement in FFA.
He married Bonnie Bovee, on February 12, 1963, in the Belleville United Methodist Church. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past February. Dick was an avid hunter, a passion he shared with family and friends. He was also a member of the Grace Community Church, having traveled on several mission trips to the Ukraine.
Above all else, Dick was a farmer. His love of the land and concern for animals has always been part of his makeup. He and his son, Al, owned and operated a dairy farm in Cortland, NY, for a number of years. In addition to farming, Dick had owned an excavation business, a general contracting business and a custom woodworking shop. He truly had a gift in his hands and could build anything. Many homes in Jefferson County now proudly display his craftsmanship either through custom furniture, kitchen cabinetry or period restoration work.
Dick also had a deep tie to his community through the fire service. He was a 56 year member of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department in Smithville, NY, where he served in a variety of positions including Chaplain. Late in his fire career he also became an EMT. He was selfless in his service, both on and off the fire scene. He was always willing to lend a hand to someone in need and was pretty well known at chicken bar-be-ques at the firehouse. He took pride in training younger members and made the best bbq sauce around!
He is survived by his wife, Bonnie and their three children. Carrying on his legacy are his son, Al, and wife, Donna Jo, residing in Adams, NY; his daughter, Sandy, residing in Pleasant Valley, NY; and his daughter, Tracy, residing in Carthage, NY. He is deeply loved by his grandchildren: Shannon, Matthew, Jacob, Jessica, Nichole, Ryan, Benjamin and Brittany, and great-granddaughter, Stella. He is also survived by his sister, Brenda Jean Neubarth, and her husband, Fred, of Boynton Beach, Florida. His brother, Harry, passed away in 2008.
Funeral Services will be held at Grace Community Church, 17784 Michael Rd, Adams Center, NY on Wednesday, July 3rd, at 11am. Burial will follow in the Smithville Cemetery. Calling hours will be held Tuesday, July 2nd, at the Grace Community Church from 6-8 pm with a fireman’s funeral beginning at 8pm. Arrangements are being coordinated by the Piddock Funeral Home, Adams, NY.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Dick’s memory can be made to the Smithville Fire Department or The Edge Teen Center, Adams, NY.
Monday, July 6, 2015, Watertown, NY
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