PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – Since FSU legend Bobby Bowden passed away on Sunday morning, many around the Panhandle have been remembering his legacy.
Coach Bowden impacted people all around the country, but he had a special connection and love for Panama City and the community here.
“He’s the kind of person, that when you were in his presence, you knew immediately what a wonderful man he was and that he was gonna touch your life forever,” Florida State booster Janice Hanks said.
Even though Bowden spent a long 34 seasons with the Seminoles and called Tallahassee home, many say his second home was in Bay County.
“He brought his family here, Fourth of July’s, holidays, they celebrated, he just loved spending time here. Made a lot of wonderful friends in business owners and boosters he met at football games,” Hanks said.
He loved it so much, he actually bought a condo on Thomas Drive. Then, he bought another at Carillon Beach.
Over the years, he’s been spotted at many different places around the area.
“I was working out at Bay Point when they were building the golf course and we were working on the golf course in the summer time in high school and the course didn’t open until 9, but about 7 o’ clock someone’s out there playing. Man I said someone’s playing out there that early, and I was cutting the grass and I wanted to see who it was and it was Bobby Bowden playing,” Bay High head coach Keith Bland said.
Panama City native Jarad Moon remembers Bowden really well since he played for him from 1996 to 2000.
“You know the world lost a great coach but it lost an exceptional man, and leader. And what he taught us, really in order – was faith, family, football, in that order. He would teach us that a player with a clean conscience is a better player. And every guy who went through that program knew what a Christ-based salvation was,” Moon said.
Moon said the first time he talked to Coach Bowden, he was sold on playing for the Seminoles.
“We just talked life, he doesn’t talk football at all, he wanted to know about me and things I’m interested in asked questions about everything but football. Really wanted to know who his players were as people and it really gave you some insight into who he was,” Moon said.
Coach Bowden will definitely be remembered for the legacy he left on the Florida State football program, but for him, it wasn’t just about the wins and losses, instead something much more important than those.
“Coach Bowden used football as a ministry and in many ways was a missionary in people’s homes all across the country and those are the types of things that last,” Moon said.
Bowden spread the word of God all over the Panhandle too and spoke to many churches locally.
Many people here describe him as a “godly man,” who was strong in his faith.
“If you had any question about one person that’s heading on that fast-track to heaven, you got to say Bobby Bowden’s already up there, he didn’t have to wait in line long,” Bland said.
Although many won’t get the chance to meet the great Bobby Bowden himself, his legacy will live on in the lives that he touched all around the area.
“I don’t think he ever realized the greatness that everyone else saw in him, he always just looked at himself as a plain average person, he would go to Coram’s and have breakfast he would go to Captain Anderson’s and have dinner,” Hanks said.
Bowden will lie in honor in the Florida Capitol rotunda from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. Friday and will lie in repose in the university’s Moore Athletic Center from 2 p.m to 7 p.m.
A funeral service open to the public will be held at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Bowden also will lie in repose Sunday at his alma mater, Samford University in Birmingham, prior to a family-only burial service that will be held in Trussville, Alabama.