Memorial Spaceflights


William Robert "Rob" Bowling, II

"Yeah, I wanna dance with somebody!"
1970 - 2021

William (Rob) Robert Bowling, II was born on November 28, 1970 in Rolla, Missouri. This loyal, generous, wickedly sarcastic, trusted friend and beloved family member ascended silently, peacefully and without struggle while surrounded by his family, on May 11, 2021.

Rob is survived by his parents Sandra (Creamer) Bowling, William Robert Bowling and Linda Bowling. His sister, Leisa (Bowling) Stevens, brother-in-law, Anthony Stevens and, much loved nephew, William Stevens.

Rob's birth was a gift, a miracle, amazing. He changed our lives for the better. He was the baby, the son, the grandson and my little brother. He watched American Bandstand and Soul Train with me on Saturday at noon. We danced, ate Chef Boyardee pizza and did the older sister-little brother thing. Rob was my co-pilot. If I had Rob along on dates or outings, I could stay an hour longer. The twelve-year age difference made him the right age to report, in detail, on any and all dates.

As a son, Rob was exceptional, loving, exhausting and sometimes maddening. Rob was always ten steps ahead of everyone else. His talent for debate made its presence known long before he became a state champion debater. The dinner table was the stage. He was known to "lay in weight," point/counterpoints in hand.

As a child, Rob was precocious, intellectually curious, and in general, a "handful." He filled his bedroom ceiling with model airplanes and rockets. His number one question was, "What is that?" He was our family's first "techie." Atari invaded our house in 1977. Intellivision. Handheld video games, electronic gadgets, of every sort were scattered throughout the house patiently awaiting Rob's attention.

Rob was a Trekkie, and a proud SF fandom member. Star Trek was a mainstay throughout Rob's life, the series, movies, books and accoutrements. Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Who, Stargate, X-Files and Star Wars filled his Tivo. NASA TV, Space X, all of it filled his heart and mind. He loved TCM, his favorite movie was, "The Best Years of our Lives." But, Judy Garland was his favorite movie star!

Rob's greatest interest was space exploration. He would have loved to be a top-gun pilot and/or an astronaut. He spent hours studying NASA missions from Mercury through Gemini, Apollo and the Shuttle. Numerous FOIA requests were submitted, tidbits of information pulled from the web and chases leading down rabbit holes left Rob pulling numerous all-nighters at his computer. The last mission Rob watched was Perseverance.

Rob was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He tried therapy of every type. He was medicated and over-medicated. He tried to battle his mental illness with sheer willpower. Rob volunteered with NAMI in order to use his experience and insight into his diagnosis to help others. He fought hard for 30+ years to be "normal," to manage his mental illness, to be productive and do good in the world. He was a bright, shining star in our lives. He was normal. He suited us perfectly.

We loved you, love you and will always love you, Rob.

"We prefer to help ourselves. We make mistakes, but we're human--and maybe that's the word that best explains us." -- Captain James T. Kirk

PS - Taluhk nash-veh k'dular, my little brother.

PSS - One of my favorite memories of Rob is when on vacation in San Diego, California, we toured the USS Midway. Rob and young Will, went through the flight simulator over and over. Each time, coming out with the ear to ear grins, laughing, high-fiving, and talking about how they would improve next time. After we depleted significant funds on the simulator, we went up to the flight deck where Rob gave us a dissertation on every aircraft. To this day, I amazed at how much Rob knew about each and every aircraft on the flight deck. This rocket journey into deep space for Rob could not be more fitting. In the words of Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation “Make it so!” Enjoy the trip, Tony.

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