NEWLEN, Kimberly Bowman, 57, died February 8, 2014 at her Henrico County home, surrounded by loved ones, after a gracious and courageous seven month battle with stage 4 metastatic metaplastic breast cancer. At the time of her death, Kim, a wife, mother, ministry leader, former school teacher, author, motivational speaker, inventor, and Guinness World Record holder, was radiant and at peace. She knew her Lord had prepared a glorious place for her, free from suffering, filled with sweetness, and with a touch of pink.
During her 28 year marriage to former University of Virginia basketball standout, Mark Newlen, Kim was his most fervent cheerleader. The greatest gift of their lives was their precious “Special K” Kali Sutton Newlen, 22, a senior at James Madison University. Nineteen years ago, at home with a small child, Kim put out an open invitation for women to drop by her house the first Monday of each month. She provided a simple dessert, a few words of Christian encouragement, and a practical or fun topic. Sweet Monday was born! This non-profit women’s creative evangelism ministry, “Women’s Socials on a Shoestring. . .Tied to a Generous God,” now has spread worldwide and operates in every continent except Antarctica.
She has been featured in media such as Today’s Christian Woman, Just Between Us, Family Circle, Lead Like Jesus, Moody Radio’s Midday Connection and Chris Fabry Live, The 700 Club, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Kim originally was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. At that time, she endured, as she often said, “every complication that can occur with cancer short of death.” In spite of lingering health effects from that initial bout of cancer, Kim continued her many activities and she unexpectedly became an entrepreneur.
While still recuperating from her surgery, she applied for and secured a patent for a post-surgical garment, which she called LookBetterThanYouFeel®. Production began on a line of lovely, practical camisoles that can easily be slipped on and off and that offer hidden pockets to accommodate drainage tubes. Kim and Mark took the concept from a home-based operation to one that now has contracts with major hospitals in Virginia.
On a smaller scale, also based on her health needs, Kim developed another product: the LympheDoggie®. As someone who suffered from lymphedema, she needed a way to elevate and rest her affected arm. She had a piece of foam cut to meet her specifications. When someone pointed out that the shape resembled a canine, creative Kim covered it in animal print, attached a collar, and began production.
Kim’s piŠce de’ r‚sistance was the 2005 World’s Greatest Tea Party, a celebration of Sweet Monday’s 10th anniversary to which she attracted a record-breaking 7,291-person throng of pink to the University of Richmond’s Robins Center. As a third grade teacher in Charlottesville and at The Collegiate School in Henrico, Kim often dressed as “Miss Tea Party.” (In fact, her vehicle of choice was a hot pink pickup boldly emblazoned with that moniker!). Kim, who was recovering at the time from her initial bout of cancer, told a reporter: “Like each Sweet Monday meeting, the World’s Greatest Tea Party was steeped in spirituality.” Her lifelong belief was that fun and faithfulness go together.
Formerly of Pendleton and Gaffney, S,C., Kim earned her undergraduate degree from Erskine College and her Masters in special education from Clemson University. She served on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ at UVA. In addition to her husband and daughter, Kim is survived by her sister, Shawn Bowman-Hicks (husband Charles B. Hicks) of Winston-Salem, N.C.; her nephew, Elias; her brother, Ryan June Bowman of Seneca, S.C. (wife April Bowman); and her niece, Claire Bowman of Charlotte, N.C. Kim was predeceased by her mother, Maxine; and her father, Claud, who wrote on every letter he sent to Kim: BSSYP (Be Sweet and Say Your Prayers). That became Kim’s signature phrase, along with Smiley Faith.
Her favorite color was pink. Many of Kim’s experiences and anecdotes have been chronicled in a book published by Tyndale House last September: The One Year® Sweet and Simple Moments with God Devotional®. The book, her passion for the last several years of her life, has become her legacy. Endorsements include Kim’s friends, such as Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager; and Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, 2014 Super Bowl champions. It’s impossible to fully capture in the confined columns of a newspaper the too-short life of a remarkable woman who lived without boundaries and with a boundless enthusiasm for Jesus Christ.
She once said, “I think I’m leading my pink purpose-driven life every day.” A sweet celebration of Kim’s amazing life was held at West End Presbyterian Church, 9008 Quioccasin Rd., February 11 at 4 p.m. In honor of Kim, everyone wore pink!
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Sweet Monday, which has as its mission “reaching out to women one sweet invitation at a time for Christ.” Gifts in memory of Kim may be sent to Sweet Monday, 1006 Pump Rd., “Sweet” 100, Richmond, VA 23238.
Sweet note from Kali:
My mom had the biggest heart. She taught us to celebrate everything, to live without regrets, to forgive quickly and to love deeply. Our lives are sweeter because of how she’s inspired us, encouraged us and brought us closer to our Savior. With her sweet Southern charm, her radiant smile and joyful spirit, she perfectly embodies the characteristics of a Proverbs 31 Woman. Not only is she a Richmond “Hometown Hero,” but she’s our hero and always will be. As my mom would say, “Be Sweet and Say Your Prayers.”
For information on other types of gifts or donations, or to purchase Kim’s book, contact firstname.lastname@example.org