(This is the third in our weekly series of Clarksville Faces of Women’s History profiles for Women’s History Month.)
In honor of Women’s History Month, we are recognizing the faces of Clarksville who have broken down barriers for women.
This week’s spotlight is on Carolyn Bowers -- the first woman elected County Mayor who made an impact on the Clarksville community throughout her career.
Bowers was born and raised in Clarksville-Montgomery County. She graduated from Clarksville High School and went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Austin Peay State University. In 1969, she was offered a business teacher position at her high school alma mater, which began her 29-year career with the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System as both a business and computer teacher.
During her time at CMCSS, Bowers served on numerous statewide task forces and committees that made recommendations and decisions about the future of education in Tennessee. In 1998, she was voted CMCSS Distinguished Classroom Teacher.
Bowers took on a new role in 1998 when she was elected Montgomery County Trustee. As Trustee, she revised the way idle funds were invested, earning more than $20 million in interest revenue. After serving Montgomery County as Trustee, she punched her ticket in 2006 to become the first woman to be elected Mayor of Montgomery County.
As Mayor, Bowers continued to put her community first, by sharing her knowledge and expertise on the APSU President’s Circle of Advisors and multiple advisory committees at APSU. She was recognized with the Athena Award for Professional Leadership Among Women, the Clarksville Rotary “Service Above Self” Award, and as Rotarian of the Year.
During Bowers’ second term as Mayor, Kim McMillan was elected Clarksville City Mayor, making Clarksville-Montgomery County local government from 2011-2014 entirely female-led for the first time.
During her two terms as Mayor of Montgomery County (2006-2014), Bowers saw the County on the initial cusp of growth that we now see today. She put the County on an aggressive 15-year debt payback schedule and improved the County’s credit rating to a AA rating. She spearheaded the completion of four new elementary schools, a high school, the renovation of Montgomery Central High School and Northwest High School so that the growing student population would receive a quality education. She also oversaw the renovations of Woodlawn Park, St. Bethlehem Civitan Park, facilities upgrades throughout Rotary Park, the preliminary stages of RichEllen Park, and saw to near-completion the first Veterans Nursing Home in Montgomery County. She also oversaw the terminal expansion at Outlaw Field to accommodate corporate fliers and the renovation of the RJ Corman railroad bridge that crosses the Cumberland River.
Bowers made it a priority to bring in higher-paying jobs to Clarksville-Montgomery County. She oversaw the preliminary stages of Hankook establishing its first United States plant and envisioned other automotive and industrial manufacturers coming to the area that we see today.
In total, Bowers served for a combined 16 years in Montgomery County leadership -- two terms as County Trustee and two terms as County Mayor.
Throughout her career, Bowers has been involved in Clarksville-Montgomery every step of the way. As a teacher, trustee, and Mayor, her career not only made a lasting impact on her community, but for women of future generations. Clarksville-Montgomery County’s quality of life was enhanced and became an even better place to live, work, and raise a family thanks to Bowers’ leadership and her love for her hometown. For that, we recognize her as one of the “Clarksville Faces of Women’s History.”