His curiosity within history, and his links to it, create books

Oct. 25, 2013 @ 07:14 PM

OXFORD — Lewis Bowling grew up in Granville County.

He enjoyed playing sports and reading.

As he pursued his profession as a teacher, he combined those twin interests to carve out a writing career that has produced four books about Granville County and five books on sports and fitness.

Readers of the Oxford Ledger are familiar with his column “Looking Back.” In it he may analyze a major event in the history of Granville County. Or he may pass along a few little-known nuggets of information from the past.

Bowling said he has been surprised at the success of his books.

“My first book about Granville County came out around 2002,” Bowling said. “The book really did much better than I thought. It let me know how much Granvillians loved their county.”

That book is now in its third printing.

Bowling credits the local library with sparking many of his interests as he grew up.

“My favorite place to be dropped was at Thornton Library,” he said in a recent interview. “I’d leave with my limit of four books, mainly history and biography.”

He still relies on Thornton Library for much of his research, as well as the Granville County History Museum and the G.C. Shaw Museum.

But he also looks elsewhere.

“My main source was going to people in the county,” he said.

These contacts have helped him collect scrapbooks, old newspaper articles and other materials.

A particularly rich source, he said, are senior citizens. Many of them have family documents they want to preserve, but are unsure how.

His local history books include “Granville County, a Pictorial History of the County,” “Granville County, Revisited,” “Granville County, North Carolina: Looking Back” and “Oxford.”

Bowling’s interest in sports and fitness has come partly through his career as a physical education teacher. He is an assistant professor of physical education at N.C. Central University and teaches part-time at Duke University.

The Duke association led to an interest in legendary football coach Wallace Wade and from there to the University of Alabama, where Wade coached before coming to Duke. That led to two books: “Wallace Wade, Championship Years at Alabama and Duke,” and “Alabama Football Tales: More Than a Century of Crimson Tide Glory.”

Bowling also wrote “Duke Basketball: A Pictorial History.”

More closely associated with his teaching responsibilities are his books on fitness: “Resistance Training, The Total Approach” and “Lifetime Physical Fitness: Assessments, Concepts, Prescriptions.”

He also contributes columns to a number of publications.

Although he lives in Durham, he maintains his ties to Granville County, where he grew up, attended the public schools and graduated from J.F. Webb High School.

He attended Louisburg College before transferring to Appalachian State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He also received a master of sport science degree from the U.S. Sports Academy in Mobile, Alabama.

His parents are Ollie Lee Bowling, Jr. and Mary Bowling. He is married to Beth Harward Bowling, a retired teacher.

What’s next for Bowling? A project that is just getting under way is a history of Oxford for the city’s 200th anniversary, which will be celebrated in 2016.


Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.