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Denise Marie Bowen

June 28, 1954 February 17, 2019
Denise Marie Bowen
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Obituary for Denise Marie Bowen

“After all, we are angels in training, all we have to do is spread our wings and fly.”

Denise M. Bowen (aka “Nina”), age 64, passed into the next phase on February 17, 2019, in Pocatello, Idaho with gratitude for the many gifts she enjoyed throughout life. She was blessed to be born in New Jersey to Arthur H. Bowen from Quebec, Canada and Joan Blodgett Bowen Pomparelli (Joe) from San Francisco on June 28, 1954, twenty-nine minutes before her beloved twin sister, Diane. The twins had two sisters, Jane and Lyn, and later gained another sister, Barbara. They attended Christ the King School and Cherry Hill High School East where they had so much fun and many wonderful friends who remained part of their lives for decades. Denise went to Old Dominion University (ODU) in Virginia where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, had more fun, and made more friends who remained part of her life forever. She moved to Pocatello in 1976, at the age of 22, for a faculty position at Idaho State University where she was associated with the Department of Dental Hygiene for 42 years and was often thought of as the heart and soul of the program.

Nina loved Idaho and deeply touched so many lives within her family, friends, university, and community; that community was wherever she journeyed, and all her communities of love will forever miss her. Among other community activities, she served as an active advocate and Board Member for the Drive for the Cure (Cancer) Foundation, Relay for Life, and Cooperative Wilderness Handicapped Outdoor Group (CWHOG) for many years.

Denise was the ultimate committed and passionate teacher with numerous areas of special competence and expertise. Her contributions to the development of her students and profession are immeasurable. She was recognized as an educator, scholar, researcher, mentor, and visionary in dental hygiene both nationally and internationally -- she was an icon in her profession.

Denise lived by the rule of the six P’s, given to her by her mother, “Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.” She followed that rule throughout the many positions she held during her tenure at ISU including ten years as Department Chair, Professor Emeritus and Graduate Faculty Member. Her interest in the welfare of the institution she loved was manifested repeatedly since 1980 when she served as the first female chair of the ISU Faculty Senate and Centennial Planning Director. She served as on numerous and varied committees and special task forces across the University, providing valuable input into her profession and the institution.

Over a period of forty years, Denise distinguished herself in dental hygiene as one of the top leaders and thinkers in dental hygiene research. She published extensively in refereed journals, contributed many book chapters, and presented at numerous international, national and regional conferences, and state and local meetings. She began writing her first textbook at age 21, which she co-authored with her ODU major professor, Michele Darby, entitled, Research Methods for Oral Health Professionals, published in 1980. Currently, the fifth edition of Dental Hygiene Theory and Practice, co-authored by Denise, Michele Darby, and her beloved mentor, Margaret “Peggy” Walsh is in publication. The text is considered by many to be the quintessential textbook for dental hygiene students in the country. Denise was honored to be the invited speaker for the First Annual Margaret M. Walsh Memorial Symposium at the University of California at San Francisco.

Too numerous to mention, Denise served various associations as keynote speaker, presenter, commentator, moderator, editorial board member, committee chair, and consultant for industry and government. A sampling of her special achievements include recognition by the American Dental Hygienist’s Association as “One of Six Dental Hygienists You Should Know, Research Category” and “One of Ten Most Influential Dental Hygienists.” She was a recipient of the ISU Outstanding Reseacher Award and the ISU Professional Achievement Award. Denise was a key leader of the National Center for Dental Research and Evidence-Based Dentistry. For twenty years she served as a board member for Oral B Laboratories and was instrumental in developing the first indicator toothbrush.

Nina was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Jane, her Aunt Betty, Uncle Joe, and Aunt Jane. She is survived by her twin sister, Diane (Tom) Borden, sisters Lyn (Clyde) Donohugh and Barbara (Ken) Whitlock, cousins, nieces and nephews, and grandnieces and grandnephew – all of whom she loved more than they will ever know – and the greatest love of her life, Tom Dahlquist and their sweet dog, Beatrix. She was married to Mike Katsilometes, and although the union ended after 15 years, they remained friends. Her extended families, the Dahlquists, the Katsilometes, and the dental hygiene faculty and staff members also were loved by Nina. Nothing pleased her more than to gather people together and host their special occasions. In order to officiate at her two nieces and other friends’ wedding ceremonies Nina even obtained her ministerial certification.

Denise was blessed to have a wonderful life and many dear friends. She passed due to natural causes and was cremated at her request. She leaves one request: please don’t be sad, be grateful for our time together, and all life has to offer! As “the twins” mother Joanie often said to them “best foot forward, girls!” You are welcome to celebrate her life and share stories at an Open House on Friday, February 22, at the Juniper Hills Country Club (5:00 -7:30 pm).

Nina was a party girl. A final Celebration of Life will be held on June 28, 2019 -- Nina’s 65th birthday. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Denise M. Bowen Scholarship for Dental Hygiene honoring her memory are welcome. Donations may be sent to the ISU Foundation, STOP 8050, Pocatello, Idaho 83209-8050.

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