MEDA finance head remembered fondly

Orvie Bowman and finance team curling
Orvie Bowman (centre) with members of MEDA’s finance team, during a pre-pandemic curling outing. Whether the focus was competitive sports, service with church or local charities, relating to family and co-workers, or his work at MEDA, he was always “all in,” his wife Heather said at his funeral.

Orvie Bowman served as MEDA’s chief financial and investment officer for 13 months before his passing in a tragic accident this spring.

During that time, he played a leading role in shepherding MEDA through the COVID-19 pandemic, was respected and admired for his skills, hard work, enthusiasm, and interest in everyone he worked with.

He died April 23 after being hit from behind by a pickup truck while cycling just outside of Elmira, Ontario. He leaves behind his wife, Heather and their three children. 

His passing was a devastating loss both to MEDA and its staff, said Dr. Dorothy Nyambi, MEDA’s president and CEO.

“Orvie was the first person I hired in my role as CEO and it was clear from the beginning that he was a perfect fit,” she said. “Orvie was incredibly bright and disciplined as our CFIO, and we will miss his warmth, sense of humor, quick wit, and caring nature. His passion for helping others made him an invaluable part of our MEDA family. The entire MEDA family mourns the loss of a colleague, a family man, and our friend.”

Scott Ruddick, MEDA’s security director, appreciated Bowman’s wise counsel and calm presence. “Orvie was the very embodiment of MEDA – smart, steadfast, compassionate, driven, devoted to service, and absolutely committed to our mission and to making the world a better, more just place,” he said.

Bowman was completely humble when asked about his remarkable life journey.

Interviewed after joining MEDA, he was candid in discussing struggles, but omitted some of his remarkable accomplishments. Born into an Old Order Mennonite family that farmed north of Elmira, he left school after grade 8, leaving home and the Old Order church.

His career path took him from pig slaughtering, construction and factory work all the way to chief financial officer.

Returning to high school at age 22, he finished in several years through evening studies, setting records for the highest grade point average, and winning numerous awards.

A work placement at Manulife Financial led to a full-time job.

He earned a university degree and his Certified General Accountant designation by correspondence, studying at night after his young children went to bed.

Prior to joining MEDA, he held senior level roles at Allianz Global Assistance Canada, Sun Life Financial, Schlegel Villages and Manulife.

Speakers at his funeral praised him as a gentle, servant leader who consistently helped others.

A longtime friend how Bowman once left a good job on a matter of principle, without already having another position lined up.

In a high school essay, he wrote that he wanted to be remembered as a man after God’s own heart, his wife Heather said.

She described her husband as being “all in” with his family, his work colleagues, his faith and serving, preferably in a background role.

In 1998, the year after he and Heather were married, Bowman took a leave of absence from his job at Manulife. They went to Papua New Guinea for two years with an organization now called Ethnos360, working in an administrative role at the store that distributed food for missionaries and in the mission’s finance office.

The Bowman family’s deep faith was evident in the way they responded to the tragedy.

Heather contacted and visited with young man who was driving the truck involved in the accident to tell him that he was forgiven.

As the family wrote in the funeral bulletin: “Orvie lived a rich and meaning-filled life and will be deeply, deeply missed by many.”

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