Norman George Bowery
1944-2016, In Memoriam
A tribute to Norman Bowery at the 2017 Spring Hippocampal Research Conference in Taormina, Sicily, 15 June, 2017.
By Robert Sloviter
On Tuesday, Roger Nicoll spoke about the importance and elegance of Norman Bowery’s work, and about the impact that Norman’s work had on his research. No better statement could be made about the value of Norman’s scientific contributions. I would like to say a few words on a more personal level.
This was Norman Bowery at his home in Verona a few years ago, in his element, hosting a meal with wine bottles in hand. And this is Norman Bowery at the second hippocampus meeting, in 1990, in the Cayman Islands. We are fortunate to have Norman’s family here with us here in Taormina; Norman’s wife Barbara and their three children, Nicole, Andrew, and Annette.
Nature gives us our relatives, and luck gives us our friends. If you’re very lucky, you get to meet a few people who are fun to be with, who are inherently honest and decent, who operate ethically and unselfishly, who keep their word, and who treat others with respect, even though they may have achieved things that most other people don’t achieve. That was Norman Bowery. Norman had great enthusiasm for his family, for science, for travel, for old English sports cars, for sports, for wine, and for Italy.
Norman loved Italy, where he and Barbara made a home in the hills above Verona when he took a position there in 2004. Norman also loved meat. Despite Barbara’s best efforts, Norman was incapable of seeing the appeal of vegetables as a food for humans. He appreciated their value to rabbits and anything with multiple stomachs, but for Norman, vegetables had little appeal. Our relationship was based largely on our shared belief that any room in the stomach that was taken up by vegetables was just wasted space that could have held some more meat. When normal people get together, they take pictures of each other. When we got together, we took pictures of meat cooking.
Death is what makes life so precious, and it seems obvious that how you live your life is more important than for how long you get to live it. Norman could have lived longer -- it would have been great -- but he could not have lived life any better. At the end of his life, Norman had hope for the future, extensive travel plans, and he was living an active and positive life in a family that loved him. I’m thankful that he didn’t live so long that he saw himself diminish, or lost hope for a bright future with family and friends. Anyone who knew and loved Norman is now suffering, and thereby paying the price for the privilege of having had him in our lives for as long as we did. He will be sorely missed and long remembered. Today, truly, only the cows are happy.
We should all hope to live a life as filled with curiosity, enthusiasm, pleasure, achievement, laughs, the love of family and friends -- and meat -- as the life well-lived by Norman George Bowery.