-- Joe Holley Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Jay Paul Bowker, 96, a highway engineer who helped plan and develop the interstate
highway system, died May 13 at Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg of
complications from a stroke.
In 1935, Mr. Bowker joined what was then the Bureau of Public Roads -- now the Federal
Highway Administration -- as a student highway engineer. He served in the Army during
World War II and participated in the battle for Okinawa in 1945.
Returning to the Bureau of Public Roads as a highway engineer, he was involved for the
next several years with the interstate highway system, known officially as the National
System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Construction began in 1956, when
Congress and President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved the Highway Trust Fund.
Mr. Bowker retired in 1974 as chief of highway systems staff in the Federal Highway
Administration's Office of Highway Planning.
He was born in Auburn, N.Y., and grew up in the District. After graduating from Western
High School (1931), he received a degree in civil engineering from the University of
Maryland in 1934. He was a member of Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda,
his place of residence before he moved to Sarasota, Fla., in 1991. He returned to
Maryland in 2002.
Survivors include his wife of 69 years, Lois Huffman Bowker of Gaithersburg; three
children, Ann Bowker and Janet Bowker Miller, both of Bethesda, and James Bowker of
Rockville; a brother; and two grandchildren.