SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Joyce Bowman, the first African American woman to chair both the Caddo Commission and the Shreveport City Council, died Sunday morning. She was 60.
After a year long public battle with cancer, in the end Bowman was surrounded by family at her Queensborough home, where she passed shortly after 9 a.m. She is survived by her husband, two sons and a daughter-in-law.
Bowman and her often fiery character were well enough known in the ArkLaTex that news of her death prompted many citizens on Sunday to talk about her life and mission.
Son Jerry Bowman spoke about his mother's last wishes.
"To keep going with what she wanted, and that's for people to stand up for themselves and not be afraid to say what the feel they need to get out."
That's a lesson Bowman was particularly suited to teach.
Last summer, after she heard 20 gunshots ring out while sitting on her porch in Queensborough, Bowman appealed to gun bangers with a letter addressed to them.
Her message to the shooters: "Get the hell out of our community!"
The District 5 commissioner and homeowner then led a series of neighborhood meetings to hear residents' ideas about ways to stem violent crime.
Her anger wasn't reserved for gangbangers, either. Once, Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover found himself in her cross hairs during a City Council meeting in 2010.
Then-Council Chair Bowman blasted Glover, reportedly telling him with raised voice that he was "out of order."
But there was anything but resentment on Sunday, when Glover released a statement about Bowman's death. Glover acknowledged her passing on the day before Memorial Day, when the nation remembers those warriors who have fallen in the line of duty.
"Joyce is the embodiment of their civilian parallel. A fierce, determined, impassioned civic warrior committed to making her block, her street, her neighborhood and, ultimately, her city a better, safer, more prosperous place for all of us to live."
Bowman appeared on the political scene in 1999 after 23 years as staff coordinator and nursing administrator at CHRISTUS Schumpert.
From 1999 until 2006 she was a Caddo Parish commissioner. She was on the City Council from 2006 until 2010, when she was elected again as commissioner. Her return to parish politics essentially was a switch of duties with one-time parish Commissioner Sam Jenkins, who was elected to Bowman's former council seat.
She announced in May 2010 that she would not seek re-election, due to health reasons. At the time, she revealed she has rheumatoid arthritis, a painful condition she was diagnosed with in 2008.
Bowman continued to attend commission meetings until recently, even while going through chemotherapy and other treatments in her fight against cancer.
Before passing, Bowman left instructions with her family about what she wanted done next.
"She prepared us. I mean, step by step. She even wrote it out for me my instructions. ... And she looked me in my eyes with those glasses down at the end of her nose, and she told me to follow those instructions."
Bowman's response: "Yes, ma'am."
Funeral arrangements are pending.