OBITUARY: Floyd William Sowers

Floyd William Sowers, educator, coach, contrarian and prolific Facebook satirist, died June 19, 2020, with his family by his side. He was 72.

Floyd was a true promoter, always willing to lead the charge for causes important to him and looking for ways to honor the achievements of others. He had a gift for seeing the good in people and believing in their potential. And, he firmly believed that showing up imperfectly was far better than not showing up at all. So, it is no surprise that when a massive stroke turned Floyd’s life upside down in 2018, people from every corner of his life rallied around him, bringing full circle the lessons of perseverance, second chances and constant learning that he had imparted to them.

Floyd was born on Dec. 14, 1947, in Elkhart, Ind. He was the first person in his family to graduate from high school, Wakarusa High, where he was a star basketball player and also got straight As in music—a real life Troy Bolton.

Perhaps a sign of things to come, Floyd met his wife, Bonnie, in 1968 at a state-run mental hospital in Westville, Ind. They eventually settled in Kansas, where Floyd spent his career as a special education teacher and a coach. Although he coached everything from volleyball to golf, his real love was basketball. He coached women’s basketball at Bethel College from 1989-1999, where he was the first coach in program history to eclipse 100 career wins.

Floyd was also a feminist—a “girl dad” long before Kobe made it cool. He encouraged his daughters to do anything they wanted to do and be anything they wanted to be. He would die all over again if we had your attention like this and didn’t mention that Stephanie is a partner at a major law firm in Kansas City, Liz is the head coach for women’s flag football at Ottawa University and Katie is an offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers.

If you knew Floyd, you undoubtedly knew these things. He probably told you about them every time he saw you. Every. Single. Time.

Floyd excelled at giving unsolicited advice, planning trips, beating 4-year-olds at Candyland, rearranging furniture, Face-Timing with his grandkids and home-improvement projects that were almost up to code. He also thought Mamma Mia 2 was better than the original.

He despised overcooked steak, hypocrites, formality, relinquishing control of the television remote and Bill O’Reilly. In reverse order.

An avid golfer, Floyd could often be found at the Hesston Golf Course yucking it up with his friends or online, planning his next big golf vacation. He sunk eight lifetime holes-in-one and had a single-digit handicap.

After winning a golf tournament over Memorial Day weekend in 2018, Floyd suffered a major stroke, which left him aphasic and partially paralyzed. Although he could no longer enjoy many of the things that defined his life until that point, he still took extreme pride in his family and spent invaluable time with his grandchildren, learning and interacting together. The family would like to extend its heartfelt thanks to all the medical professionals who treated Floyd over the past two years.

While Floyd’s family grieves the loss of their loving, tell-it-like-it-is “Silly Grampy,” they find comfort that he is no longer shackled by the disabilities from his stroke. Floyd had an opinion about everything and not being able to share those opinions may actually have hastened his death. Undoubtedly, one of his greatest regrets was being unable to post on Facebook when Trump was impeached or when Roger Goodell finally admitted that the NFL was wrong in its handling of the protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Floyd is survived by his wife of 52 years, Bonnie Kauffman Sowers; daughters, Stephanie (Dion) Sankar, Liz Sowers, and Katie Sowers; grandchildren Clara, Sam and Quinn Sankar; siblings, Linda Waddell, Sharon Sowers, Richard Sower and Randall Sowers; and a host of beloved in-laws, nieces and nephews, and close friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Richard and Esther Sowers.

Due to a complete lack of leadership from the White House in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, a celebration of Floyd’s life has been delayed until 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 5, 2021, at Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City, Kan.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Floyd’s name to the Milo and Clara Kauffman Student Aid Fund at Hesston College, or to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Finally, the family asks that—in honor of Floyd—you wash your hands, check your privilege, tell your loved ones how much they mean to you, and vote Democrat this November.

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