Colleagues, students recall impact of former longtime nursing faculty member

A trailblazing nursing instructor is being remembered this week by former colleagues and students for her innovation in and her passion for the nursing program at Pittsburg State University.  

Sharon Bowling died Jan. 13 in Kansas City after a brief illness at the age of 73. 

Cheryl Giefer, the director of the Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing, credited Bowling with the program becoming the second in Kansas to gain membership in the prestigious International Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau. 

"She was very passionate about the profession of nursing and worked diligently to make Pittsburg State University the finest program in the state of Kansas,” Giefer said. “She left a legacy.” 

A native of Mound Valley, Kansas, Bowling earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing in May 1974, followed by her master’s, her nurse practitioner license, her educational specialist degree, and in 1989, a doctorate from the University of Kansas. 

Bowling had a passion for education and joined the faculty at PSU; during her tenure of 35 years, she taught thousands of students.  

Giefer was one of them. 

“I was very proud to have been selected as a charter member of our chapter of Sigma Theta Tau as a graduating senior and our class recognized that this would not have happened without Dr. Bowling's leadership,” she said. 

After Giefer began teaching at Pittsburg State, Bowling recruited her to become a member of a master's degree task force, as once again she was working diligently on another dream: the establishment of graduate level nursing education in 1994 with both a clinical nurse specialist track and a family nurse practitioner track.   

In 1994, Bowling was chosen for Pittsburg State’s prestigious Dr. Kenneth K. Bateman Outstanding Alumni Award. Bowling retired with emeritus status in October 2010. 

“In working closely as a colleague with Dr. Bowling for many years, it was clear that she was passionate about her family, nursing education, and service to others,” said Mary Carol Pomatto, now dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and herself a longtime member of the Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing faculty.  

Pomatto described Bowling as “a trailblazer whose legacy includes a long list of impressive accomplishments that will endure well into the future.” 

Joan and Bob Sheverbush, both retired longtime faculty members who were her colleagues, described her as innovative. 

“I taught in nursing and she had many clever new ideas and was very personable,” said Joan, who taught with her until 2005. “She cared about the welfare of the school and was always reaching out to other departments.” 

One of those departments was Psychology, which Bob chaired from 1976 to 2004. 

“She was one of the first people at Pitt State to come visit, and we had great cooperation over the years between the two departments working on grants, proposals for mental health, and coursework,” he said. “She made a long-lasting impact.” 

During her career, Bowling made numerous national and international presentations to the World Health Organization, in England, in China, and in Mexico. In the mid-1990s, she was instrumental in founding the AIDS Resource Network of Southeast Kansas. 

She also took great pleasure in spending time with her family and network of grandchildren and traveling with them throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. On Valentine’s Day in 1982, she married Roy Bowling, who survives in Pittsburg.  

Other survivors include a daughter, Karla Mohtashemi, of Seattle, Washington; a stepdaughter, Jennifer Bowling Foster of Springfield, Missouri; a stepson, Ronnie Bowling of Springfield, Missouri; three grandchildren, two sisters, and numerous nieces and nephews. 

A graveside service was held Jan. 17 in Mound Valley.