John M. ‘Big John’ Bowers

On Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, John M. “Big John” Bowers, loving husband, father and grandfather unexpectedly passed away at the age of 71.

John was born in Nicholas County, W.Va. on Sept. 28, 1947 to Cecil & Inez (Salisbury) Bowers. He made Upshur County his home for 57 years before moving to Tucker County to be closer to family.

On Jan. 25, 1970 John married the love of his life, Karen Sue Johnston. They raised one son, John Michael Bowers II.

John received his barber license from the Huntington Barber College and was a practicing barber for 12 years, then he discovered auctions. And away he went to the Mendenhall School of Auctioneering in High Point, N.C. to follow his dream, which he did for the rest of his life.

John enjoyed having a microphone in his hand. If you missed him at an auction, you may have seen him as an Emcee at his sons bluegrass festival, Pickin’ in Parsons. He enjoyed introducing the bands and talking to the crowd between performances. John also could be found over the years at the W.Va. Strawberry Festival, selling strawberries or baskets for the CEOS.

John was civic minded. He was quick to discuss politics, which started years ago when he was the president of the Young Democrats Association in Upshur County. He remained active in politics throughout his life.  Besides politics, he enjoyed volunteering and serving his community. He was honored to be named a Kentucky Colonel by the Commonwealth of Kentucky for his public service. The Record Delta also recognized him in a feature called “Great people make a great community.”

John had a passion for people. He would make quick friends with anyone who was in the room. Fast with a joke or a story from yester year, John was an entertainer, a comedian, but mostly he was the bright spot in everyone’s day.

He donated countless hours raising money to help those afflicted with serious illness, or victims of house fires. John put a lot of effort into helping the Marine Corp with “Toys for Tots” and donated generously  to the Tyrands Cooperative Ministries and St Judes Children’s Hospital. He was known for his loving heart, quick wit, infectious smile and kind spirit.

One of his favorite Christmas pastimes was to take candy and Poinsettias to the elderly at Holbrooks Nursing Home.

John was preceded in death by his father, Cecil, his mother, Inez and his favorite aunt, Hettie Bowers.

He is survived by his wife Karen, his son John & wife Joyce (Bell), granddaughter (the light of his life) Katelynn and brothers Larry & wife Luanne  and Bob & wife, Lynda Bowers.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations in his memory to the church John and Karen have attended for several years: the Parsons Presbyterian Church, 304 Walnut Street, Parsons, WV 26287.

Online condolences may be made to the family at



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