Former SKSD superintendent dies at age 77

A memorial service for a former South Kitsap School District superintendent was held July 30 in the auditorium of South Kitsap High School.

Dr. Dewayne Gower

Dr. Dewayne Gower

A memorial service for a former South Kitsap School District superintendent was held July 30 in the auditorium of South Kitsap High School.

Dr. Barney Dewayne “Doc” Gower, 77, of Olalla, died July 21, at Harrison Hospital in Bremerton.

Gower became superintendent in 1982 and retired June 30, 1995. During his tenure, the school district grew from 8,500 to 11,000 students and three elementary school were constructed during his tenure. He was named “Superintendent of the Year” by the American Association of School Administrators in 1989.

He was chosen to participate in a month-long educational seminar at Columbia University, in New York in the summer of 1978. He also was chosen Washington State University’s “Dad of the Year” in 1986 for his overall achievement and support of the school as an alumnus of WSU.

Before coming to South Kitsap, Gower was a teacher and principal in the Pasco School District and superintendent of the Lind and Elma school districts.

Dave Colombini, SKSD assistant superintendent, remembers Gower has someone who loved people, the community and schools.

“He loved his job as superintendent,” Colombini said. “Most of the time he was there at school or sports activities. He love the kids, the schools and the community.”

Colombini also remembers Gower as a gentleman.

“He always had time to talk to you and when he spoke to you, he made you feel like the most important person in the room,” he added.

Gower was born on Aug. 9, 1935, in Kendrick, Okla., to Barney and Florence Gower. He lived in Oklahoma until he was 11, then his family moved to Burbank, Wash.

Gower graduated from Columbia High School in 1952 at the age of 16 and later attended Eastern Washington University where he attained his bachelor’s degree in education in 1956.

He married his wife, Frankie, on Feb. 24, 1956.

Gower served in the U.S. Army from 1957-61 at Camp Hanford in Richland. After the military, he earned his master’s degree in education from EWU in 1965 and his doctorate in education from Washington State University in 1972.

He was a member of the Port Orchard Kiwanis and served in many capacities at the Church of Christ.

Survivors include by his wife, Frankie Gower of Olalla; and daughters, Lisa Gower Wickens of Olalla and Sandra Gower Farnsworth of Puyallup; and six grandchildren.

Donations can be made to the Olalla Elementary PTA (6100 Denny Bond Blvd., Olalla, WA 98359) for the establishment of an educational garden program at the school.

A reception will be held immediately following the memorial service.

An online tribute and additional information and photos can be viewed at


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