Runelle Bowman

Obituary of Runelle Karnes Bowman

Runelle Karnes Bowman passed away peacefully on March 13, 2021, at the age of 88.  She embraced life fully.


Runelle was born on May 19, 1932, in Denton, Texas to John Wesley Karnes and Emma Elizabeth Bryant Karnes.  She was one of nine children and the last surviving member of that Karnes generation.  Her mother Emma died when she was nine so, being second youngest, she was fortunate to have loving siblings to help take care of her.  She was predeceased by her parents, and brothers, Dr. John Karnes, Dr. M. Ray Karnes, Dr. Jim Karnes, and Dr. Charles Karnes, and sisters, Mondue Karnes, Mildred Lynch, Alwilda Karnes, and Elizabeth Pottinger.  Runelle’s husband, Jackson H. Bowman III, and daughter, Margaret Elizabeth Bowman, also predeceased her.


Runelle met her husband Jack on a blind date while a flight attendant for Braniff Airways, and while he was getting his wings; soon to become an Air Force officer and pilot.  Jack and Runelle were married on December 27, 1954, in Dallas, Texas.  They were married for over 60 years, until Jack’s death on May 31, 2015.  They would live and move frequently.  Tours included: California, Hawaii, Utah, Massachusetts, and finally Florida, where they retired to St. Petersburg from Air Force life.


Runelle was remarkable for many reasons, but the most compelling was her ability to find optimism even after her daughter Margaret was murdered on January 15, 1978.  Stark, yes, but that fact illuminates the extraordinary transition to resiliency that Runelle found by her own choice and effort—no doubt with help from others and her faith.  Remarkable.  She always exhibited indelible integrity.  She was a perfectionist, and was quick to let you know when you weren’t measuring up to your best. She was a giver, mostly to her family, are rarely to herself.  Runelle told the truth.


Runelle went back to school and received her business degree from USF in 1982.  While she worked for years in St. Petersburg after earning her degree, she never missed cooking as routine, incredible meals for her husband, family and friends.  Runelle’s meals were truly fantastic, and they served as a great reminder of how much she loved her family and friends.  She often referred to her meals as “food offerings.”  Heaven is eating better with Runelle there.


Runelle, like her husband, had great faith—thus her optimism she would say.  She loved St. Thomas Episcopal Church, and Westminster Palms, where she last resided.  She requested that any donations be made to these fine institutions’ memorial funds.


Runelle is survived and loved by her son, Jackson H. Bowman IV, his wife, Robyn Avers Bowman, many nieces and nephews, extended family and friends.  Runelle’s funeral service will be held at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, located at 1200 Snell Isle Boulevard, on April 10, 2021, at 10:00 A.M.  The service will be streamed online as well since we still live in the time of COVID.  The options are: Youtube, search for St. Thomas Episcopal Church, St. Petersburg, or Facebook at

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