David Bowser, Class of 1980S
Years ago, a former Dean of Students at Admiral Farragut Academy wrote an essay: “What a Boy Learns At Farragut.” Captain Orie T. Banks left quite a legacy at AFA, impacting generations of cadets. It is in the same spirit I share insights from my formative years at AFA I still put into practice today.
Lesson 14: “He learns that no one ever built a reputation on what he intends to do and that somewhere there must be a beginning. It might be a wise idea to begin right here…NOW…where there are capable and willing people to guide him in the right channels.”
–Captain Orie T. Banks, Dean of Students (1953-1987)
The story begins when former AFA Alumni Director William Monrose first approached me to locate classmates who were “lost at sea” – in other words, tracking down fellow graduates from my class (1980 – South). Unfortunately, our small class of 45 was not connected to AFA or each other. It took some time and effort, but we completed a contact list and discussed what “legacy” our class could leave on the St. Petersburg Campus. What started as an idea to raise funds for a scholarship for a fallen classmate recently ended with a tangible and obvious addition to AFA: the “Sun Deck.”
Current students, faculty, employees/staff, and visitors now enjoy this beautiful space. It is strategically located next to the Mess Hall facing the West Grinder. On behalf of the Class of 1980, we look forward to dedicating this public space very soon.
What you see now took many twists and turns, involving multiple people with various connections to AFA. The capital project even overcame COVID! But the point is this: there was a beginning.
As Captain Banks taught us, “There are capable and willing people to guide (me) in the right channels.” Because I currently work and live in the Triangle of North Carolina, I have learned to “never give up, don’t ever give up”; as Jim Valvano, the head men’s basketball coach at North Carolina State, told us 30 years ago.
Even though I graduated years ago, the connection to Farragut lives on and is even closer now because of this project coming to fruition. From our class of 45 cadets, I was only one of three who attended all six years (from 7th grade to grade 12). My mother sent me to AFA for many reasons – academic, the need for structure, and an overriding purpose of male mentorship and leadership.
The last factor was paramount because I grew up without the presence of my biological father. Even though I did not understand what was happening back in 1974, I can see in 2023; this was the best thing to ever happen to me. And it is only recently that I learned that the other two classmates who “went the distance” graduated from U.S. service academies (Annapolis and West Point, respectively).
Steady as She Goes, Farragut! I hope this update will resonate with our fellow alumni looking to leave a mark at our incredible alma mater.
We look forward to enjoying the Farragut deck for our upcoming Class Reunion at Alumni Homecoming Weekend scheduled for February 2-3, 2024.
David L. Bowser – Class of 1980 South Campus
BA, Duke University, 1984
MA, University of New Orleans, 2004
Editor’s Note: David Bowser currently represents the Durham County Sheriff’s Office as Communications and Public Relations Manager in North Carolina.