Andrew Keene Bowie, 103; Capitol Hill Physician

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Andrew Keene Bowie, 103, a general practitioner who delivered babies, performed surgeries and made house calls for more than 60 years, died of congestive heart failure April 16 at his home in Upper Marlboro.

He maintained his home and office on Capitol Hill, at Third Street and Constitution Avenue NE, from 1928 until he retired in 1986. He continued seeing the occasional patient past his 100th birthday.

"When I started, there were no specialists," he told the Star Community News on the occasion of his birthday this year. "I did it all."

Dr. Bowie, one of 13 children, was born on a 300-acre farm near Upper Marlboro. As a youngster, his chore was to milk the family's five dairy cows before breakfast. He then headed off to Upper Marlboro's small elementary school.

He graduated from St. Mary's High School in Emmitsburg. He received his undergraduate degree from Catholic University and his medical degree, in 1926, from George Washington University Medical School.

After working as an intern at Providence Hospital in Washington, he set up his Capitol Hill practice. He made house calls for $3 a visit, seeing 10 to 12 patients a day. In newspaper articles over the years, longtime patients recalled how he took time for them and how, after their examination, he was happy to sit and talk.

For the Star Community News of Upper Marlboro, he recalled an emergency operation he performed on a young girl with a failing kidney, shortly after he had completed his first year as a resident medical practitioner at Providence Hospital. During the surgery, he noticed a blockage in a vein, so he injected methylene blue dye to locate the clot.

"I didn't know where to cut the vein," Dr. Bowie recalled, "so I used blue dye to see the blockage. Only it didn't come out. Within five minutes, the whole body was the same color blue."

The youngster was in no danger, although her parents were a bit surprised by her post-surgery hue.

Dr. Bowie moved back to Upper Marlboro after his retirement.

He was a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Upper Marlboro and took special pride in assisting the Little Sisters of the Poor in the District, an order of religious women who dedicate their lives to the elderly homeless. For 49 years, he donated medical care -- in the days before Medicare -- to the people the order housed. The Little Sisters of the Poor offered him a place to live after his retirement, but he decided to return to the area where he had grown up.

He also was a longtime member of the Marlboro Hunt Club and served as the group's president in years past.

Dr. Bowie's wife, Ethel Shields Bowie, died in 1988.

Survivors include six children, Anne Bowie Klopfer of Upper Marlboro, Andrew Keene "Buddy" Bowie Jr. of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., Benjamin Hall Clark Bowie of Solomons, William Frederick Bowie of Wellington, Fla., Ethel Bowie Cumming of Alexandria and Clotilda Bowie "Tillie" Cassidy of Alexandria; 24 grandchildren; and 32 great-grandchildren.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company