Doug, long-time resident of Elm Grove, passed away following a heart attack on February 16, 2020, at age 66, with his family at his bedside. Doug was born on July 31, 1953, in Madison, Wisconsin. Doug’s parents instilled in him the joy of helping others.
Doug received both a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He met his wife, Josie, on February 11, 1977, while he was in medical school. At a young age they overcame many challenging situations together, including navigating the health care system from the role of the patient. They have always been there for one another, sharing love, laughter, and adventures.
Doug and Josie moved to Milwaukee to be close to family. Doug worked as a family physician, including obstetrics, for 38 years. In 1992, he joined the Medical College of Wisconsin where he earned the rank of professor, dividing his time between direct patient care and medical student education. He cared deeply about developing future physicians who practiced not only the science of medicine, but also its art, which to Doug was kindness and compassion. He was known for being an excellent clinician and educator, an inspiring role model, and a respectful team player. He was humble in his many accomplishments and had deep gratitude for everyone who helped him. Doug’s brief retirement began on December 31, 2019. His first month of retirement was full of time with family and friends, wellness, and travel. He was looking and feeling as vibrant, healthy and happy as he ever has been, bursting with gratitude and love.
At work and in life, Doug made everyone feel important, cared for, fully heard, and special. He put people at ease with his gentleness, peaceful strength, wonderful sense of humor, and genuine smile. He was kind and thoughtful, could be endearingly goofy, and had a generous spirit. He supported people’s interests, recognized their strengths and embraced their quirks. Doug always took one moment, or as long as was needed, to make that little difference in the lives of both those he had just met or those that were blessed to know him well.
He loved each of life’s moments, big or small. Everything was a thrill for Doug because he always found the fun and humor along the way. He enjoyed cheering on the Brewers and documenting memories with his cameras, but what he most loved was his time being present with friends and family. Doug prioritized his family, the core of his joy: his wife Josie, his daughters Gina and Lisa, and his grandchildren Nina and Gabriel. When Doug became a grandpa, his light grew even brighter. He would have loved to see his soon-to-be-born grandson who will be named Douglas in his honor.
Even though the 66 years he was given on this earth were too short for what all of us were hoping, Doug lived a life so present, honest and aligned with his values, that we consider his “Doug years” to have been much longer and more impactful than typical human years.
Doug is survived by his wife of 40 years, Josie Cusma; his children: Gina (Ray Pfeiffer) Bower and Lisa (Jared Wishik) Bower; his grandchildren: Nina and Gabriel. He is also survived by his brother, James (Susan) Bower and sister, Marilyn Lawrence. He is further survived by his mother-in-law Antonina Cusma; his brother-in-laws, Jack (Dee Dee Zwettler) Cusma and David (Abigail Amissah-Arthur) Cusma; and many nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, James and Eleanor Bower; his father-in-law, Carmelo Cusma; and his brother-in-law, Steve Lawrence.
The family is grateful for the compassionate caregivers at Froedert CVICU as well as to the Elm Grove paramedics.
The April 11th memorial will be rescheduled for a later date when it's safe for all to gather.
Memorial gifts to support the Douglas J. Bower, MD Memorial Fund for Family Medicine Education can be made to the Medical College of Wisconsin, Attn: Office of Development, 8701 Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226 or online at https://mcwsupport.mcw.edu/bowermemorial.
In lieu of flowers, plant a tree and celebrate Doug by being more present and spreading more kindness.