Waldorf, MD – As the Community Foundation of Southern Maryland held its 10th Annual Philanthropy Day Luncheon Friday, Nov. 6 at the Greater Waldorf Jaycees Hall, three Southern Maryland families celebrated a legacy of giving.

Robert H. and Patricia A. Bowes and family of St. Mary’s County; Senator C.B. Bernie and Betty L. Fowler and family of Calvert; and James C. and Barbara W. Simpson and family of Charles County were honored for generations of philanthropy.

The Bowes family was recognized for its generous donations to various children’s charities, including the Community Foundation 2nd District, Hospice Camp Sunrise and the Autism Camp. They volunteered for years at Little Flower School and welcomed six foreign exchange students over a 12-year period.

“They have generously given of themselves,” said Community Foundation of Southern Maryland Executive Director Gretchen H. Hardman.

“Our children probably put us here more than we did,” Robert Bowes graciously noted.

Former Senator Bernie Fowler admitted more than his share of blessings when introduced. While the former Calvert County commissioner and former state senator was recognized for his many efforts in bringing awareness to the need for cleaner rivers and an endangered Chesapeake Bay, he noted that a father’s works live on through his children, and his one, Bernie Jr., has fulfilled that biblical prophecy Incredibly, beginning in 2012, when he helped form Farming for Hunger, a non-profit organization that has provided approximately five million pounds of fresh produce to food banks throughout the state, Washington, D.C. and Southern Maryland.

“Bernie spent a lifetime fishing and crabbing,” Hardman said, adding that “Bernie says his biggest catch was when he hooked his wife Betty.” 

“There was a little church in Broomes Island I went into one time and I asked God to help to make something of my life,” Fowler said. “I have been blessed with a community-minded family. I have been totally rewarded by my family. If you blaze the trail and set the example, there is nothing that will surprise you.”

Another former state senator, James C. Simpson of Charles County, and his family were recognized for their philanthropic efforts in Southern Maryland.

Simpson and his wife Barbara moved to Charles County in 1961 with their three children. Almost immediately, in addition to running the Simpson Distributing Company (“It’s easy to have a successful business when your product is beer,” he joked.) Simpson and his wife raised more than $5 million during a 2007 capital campaign to raise funding for the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center in La Plata. Their children followed in their parents’ footsteps, supporting the Civista Foundation, McDonough High School and most recently, serving on the College of Southern Maryland Foundation.

“I learned the art of giving from my father,” Simpson said. “I was 12 or 13 years old. It was during World War II. My father came home at Christmas and he told us, ‘I gave myself the best Christmas present I ever had.’ My mother asked him, ‘What was that?’ He said he was coming home through Washington, DC up where the Nationals Stadium is now, and he saw three Marines hitchhiking. He stopped and picked them up. One was going to Philadelphia, another was going to New York City. He asked if he could take them to the airport or bus station and they said, ‘no, we’re hitchhiking all the way.’ He took them to Union Station and bought them all round trip tickets. My father died relatively young in 1951, but from 1944 until he died he received Christmas cards every year from two of those Marines.”

Keynote Speaker Susan Crites Price told the gathering that while teaching our children to become philanthropists is challenging, it’s easily attainable in today’s world of Internet and social media.

“Children today are literally walking around with the Internet in their hands,” she said. “It’s different. They can do their advocacy on line. The most important thing is to teach them to do some of their philanthropy personally. Give them the freedom to do what moves them.”

Contact Joseph Norris at joe.norris@thebaynet.com