At 70, James "Jimmy" Bowen was the poster boy for aging well.
His long and award-filled athletic career started while playing three sports in high school in South Carolina. His football and basketball skills attracted attention from colleges in North Carolina, South Dakota and Minnesota.
Bowen received a basketball scholarship at Minnesota State University, Moorhead, where he set a single-game scoring record and was inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame. He then moved on to softball, playing for Minnesota's professional team and again nominated to state and national halls of fame.
Later in life, he played in senior softball leagues and was a referee for youth basketball, proud to be an example for many children.
In October, Bowen was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Because he was in such good shape and didn't take any medications, doctors believed they had made a mistake, said his wife, Teresa. He died May 27 at his home in New Hope.
"He was an incredibly quiet and humble person who was respectful of everybody," said his wife. "He was honored to go to college on a scholarship."
Bowen stood 6 foot 3 and about 230 pounds. He played high school basketball in York, S.C., where he led his team to two state championships. He landed in Minnesota after one of his friends moved to the state. That's where he would meet his wife, a physical education major who had a class with Bowen.
"He kept looking at my notebook to find out my name," she said. "I didn't even know he played basketball."
He played in the mid-1970s, averaging nearly 20 points a game during his junior and senior seasons. The record-setting game of 40 points stood for many years.
Bowen played first base for the Minnesota Norsemen, a professional slow-pitch softball team. His softball prowess lead to MVP awards and championship rings for the teams he played on.
He was also inducted into two national softball halls of fame and the Minnesota softball hall of fame.
Bowen earned a degree in sociology, but spent his career in manufacturing. He retired in 2016.
He and his wife spent time watching football games at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where his son Chance played defensive back on the football team. During a visit to the Moorhead hall of fame event three years ago, he was able to track down his college basketball coach who was staying in a senior living complex.
"He liked his coach so much and they had built a wonderful relationship," Teresa Bowen said.
Bowen attended high school football and basketball games because of his love of the sports. He had many hobbies, but he was particularly proud of his gardening skills. He didn't start his gardens until he retired, but they were the talk of his neighborhood.
He also enjoyed many "garage logic" sessions with his friends, Teresa Bowen said.
Besides Teresa and son Chance, he is survived by a daughter, Kellie Taylor, of St. Louis Park, and two brothers, Thomas and William, both of York, S.C.
Funeral services have been held. A celebration of life will be planned in Minneapolis for a later date.
David Chanen • Twitter:@chanenstrib