We need more newspaper editors like Bobby Dower.
Bobby Dower passed away this week after a cruel, but courageous battle with cancer.
Bobby was always quick to encourage and mentor — but you had to earn his praise. For me, it was always worth the wait. In 2013, 13 years after we worked together at the Lake Charles American Press, we still had a mutual respect for each other and more importantly, I never have lost sight of his guidance which stressed the importance of good writing and thorough reporting.
In early 2013, Bobby sent me a note after I asked him if he was interested in republishing this magazine article about McNeese State All-American David Rooney. I thanked Bobby for running an abbreviated version and he apologized for not being able to run the entire article and he simply said this: “You did a great job on this. I read every word.”
That made my day.
Bobby had a unique ability to be succinct yet powerful with his words. The power of words came naturally to him.
“Treat everybody’s copy like it is your byline on there,” he once told me.
When I worked on the American Press copy desk, many a funeral home would call and ask for this editor of popular demand: “Mr. Bobby.” The rest of us were a distant second.
Despite the tribulations of the newspaper business, Bobby Dower stayed true to the ideals his parents instilled in him as quoted in the American Press.
“(Bobby) Dower said his parents’ emphasis on the importance of education “led to a career that I loved. I got paid to go to sporting events. Can you imagine what that’s like for somebody who loves sports as much as I did. It’s unbelievable.”
For Bobby, journalism was a true vocation. Unlike some of us recovering journalists, he stayed the course. He had a passion for the American Press as the community’s premier watchdog and he cared deeply about the city and people of Lake Charles, however they found their way to Southwest Louisiana (including this writer and the rest of the Irish running contingent at McNeese).
Bobby would have thrived in any media market or at any newspaper in the country. But he choose to stay in Lake Charles and his decision was Southwest Louisiana’s gain.
On several homecoming occasions, I would meet Bobby under the stands at McNeese football games. Bobby covered four Super Bowls and numerous other major events, but I always got the impression he was never happier than when the McNeese Cowboys were on a roll.
He loved McNeese State, but could be equally objective about his alma mater when he needed to be. Bobby lived the journalism adage: It is not a matter of whether you have a bias, it is a matter of setting that bias aside in the pursuit of objectivity. Bobby was a master at being objective and fair.
July 4, 2014, was the last time I saw Bobby. I was glad I made the trip and true to his spirit of gratitude, the first thing he said to me was to apologize for not being able to attend my father-in-law’s funeral in April.
By coincidence, he knew my father-in-law Joe Mueller long before I did because Joe Mueller was the long-time DeQuincy football correspondent for the American Press.
I can take some solace now in the thought that Bobby Dower and Joe Mueller are now together swapping stories about high school football.
Rest in peace, Bobby.