Robert N. Bowers, 76, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who worked at auto dealerships in suburban Maryland and Virginia, died Sept. 2 at his home in Vienna.

He had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, said his daughter, Kim Griffis.

Col. Bowers entered the Air Force in the 1950s and began his military career as a navigator and bombardier. He later became a pilot of both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. He was a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.

After retiring from the Air Force in 1979, he held jobs in sales and management for auto dealerships, including the Fitzgerald Auto Mall in Rockville, where he worked from 1987 until his retirement in 2008. He was also a licensed real estate agent.

Robert Neal Bowers was born in Westfield, Ind., and was a graduate of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. He did graduate study in psychology while serving in the Air Force.

He was a member of the Masons and the Shriners.

Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Shirley Pickett Bowers, and two children, Kim Griffis and Mark Bowers, all of Vienna; two sisters; and a grandson.

— Matt Schudel