Posted by Heather Rutz on May 23, 2018
Jim Bowsher tells stories from our region's racial history.
Jim Bowsher is best known in the area for turning his property in Wapakoneta into the Temple of Tolerance. The stories behind many of the things found there brought him to Lima Rotary Club Monday, and he used several of those artifacts to bluntly talk about the country and region’s race relations history.
Bowsher told the story of locating an African-American man who fought in World War II living in a St. Louis slum. He found the man and his Congressional Medal of Honor in a shack. Bowsher was ashamed of his country and asked the man why he fought for a country that disenfranchised him.
“I wasn’t fighting for the country it is now,” the man said. “I was fighting for the country it will be.”
Closer to home, Bowsher had with him the skull of an African-American man who had been shot in the face in St. Marys in the 1950s, and had a newspaper account of the incident. Bowsher has many things like this in his home, and some people don’t understand why he keeps things such as artifacts from the Holocaust.
A Jewish woman spoke up for him once, Bowsher recounted, to a woman who was uncomfortable seeing such things. “Someone needs to keep evidence of the crime,” she said. “If not, people won’t believe it happened, and it will happen again.”
The Temple of Tolerance is at 203 S. Wood Street, Wapakoneta. It’s open to visitors all day, every day.
In other Rotary business Monday:
The Lima Rotary Foundation presented four checks Monday: $2,500 to the Lima Area Freedom School, $1,000 to Amil Tellers / Encore Theatre, $500 to Team RoadRunners, and $2,000 to the Celina Rotary Club for medical missions.
The club also presented two checks to the foundation totaling $3,433.60.
The club awarded several Lima Rotary Foundation Scholarships to non-traditional students Monday. With the current group of students, Lima Rotary Club has given 962 scholarships totaling $694,000 in 17 years. The scholarships are funded mainly by voluntary member contributions and the annual Rex Perry Memorial Golf Outing, which will be held June 13.
The club celebrated and contributed to Red Nose Day this week with donations of cash and cereal for the Lima City Schools food pantries. Everyone donating received a red nose and participated in a “red nose” photo for social media.
The club received information about this year’s MESA Bike Tour, which will happen June 1 through June 5.
Rotary will move its June 11 meeting to an 8 a.m. breakfast, still at the Civic Center. The meeting will be shared with other service clubs and the Lima YP, to help kick off Love Lima Week.
Rotary will hold a blood drive with the American Red Cross before, during and after the June 18 meeting at the Civic Center.