Norma was born on March 28th in 1921. She received her A.B. degree from Bryn Mawr College in 1942, concentrating her studies there on experimental psychology. During World War II, she worked in New York for Pan American Airways as an instrument instructor for US Air Force pilots.
After the war, she returned to Los Angeles to teach English. There she married John Bowles (1916-1993) and had four children. Norma and her husband John co-hosted a broad range of charitable fundraising events as well as various large scale business events because her husband was the President of the Rexall Drug Company. One of her most memorable encounters was being Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s lunch partner at the University Religious Conference at UCLA, a university for which she served as trustee.
When her children grew up, she felt free to continue pursuing her own special interests in psychology. Together with her friend and long-time business associate, Dr. Fran Hynds, Norma organized an exhibition on parapsychology for the Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibition Service. This touring exhibition and its accompanying 168-page book—published in 1978 by Harper and Row and titled PsiSearch: The New Investigation of Psychic Phenomena that Separates Fact from Speculation—received nationwide exposure and was endorsed by Nobel Laureate Glenn Seaborg, anthropologist Margaret Mead and other distinguished scientists, scholars and educators. The book that resulted was a comprehensive and well-illustrated guide to American experimental parapsychology, frequently used as a textbook in introductory classrooms in the 1970s and 1980s. PsiSearch also included sources of information, a list of organizations and publications in the field, and a recommended reading list. The Exhibit itself traveled the country in the late 1970s, stopping in such cities as Chicago where it was the main feature of a month-long calendar of speakers, courses, workshops and an art show of metaphysical and spiritual paintings on the campus of the then Mundelein College (now part of Loyola University).
The late Eileen Coly, PF’s past President, and I were privileged to work with both Norma and Fran for the benefit of the field. I remember several meetings at PF’s office with them that often included Dr. Robert Morris as they were strong supporters of his work. They also attended several PF International Conferences during that period. The PF is proud to act as a depository for the photographs used in the Psi Search book and traveling exhibit. Often behind the scenes making connections for PF’s researchers, Norma Bowles should long be remembered for her contribution to the science of parapsychology. I personally will miss her warm, wise and gracious personality.