Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.


I didn’t know Judge Scott Bowling very long, but he made a tremendous, and powerful,  first impression. What was it Joni Mitchell sang…you don’t know what you have ‘til it’s gone?

(Ed. Note:  This tribute to Ironton native Scott Bowling was originally posted one year ago today, marking the passing of a truly unique friend to his community, ironically sitting as the county’s common pleas judge.  Scott’s story is so heart rending, and yet so inspirational, it deserves your attention as an encore reminder to anyone who gets up on the wrong side of the bed…and believes he’s having a bad day.)

This is to the Scott Bowling family, wife Donna, sons Brandon and Jordan, his friends, and the numerable readers of Press Pros online in Lawrence, Gallia, and Scioto counties.

Readers in our majority market won’t recognize his name, or his reputation, but his story is nonetheless worth your time and your thoughts.

Scott Bowling passed away Sunday evening at age 50 – common pleas judge in Lawrence County, Ohio, husband, father, and friend to more than one could list. His life story is too short, a head shaker. The man who originally coined the phrase…”the good die young?”  He must have known someone just like Scott.

Bowling died after a four-year battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the insidious degenerative disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord. Commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, the Greek interpretation of the disease is this: “A” means no. “Myo” refers to muscle. And “Trophic” refers to nourishment. People who die from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis succumb to a lack of muscle nourishment. My own dad fought with a form of it, and lost, five years ago.

I met him through my cousin Paul, who proudly introduced us, calling Scott his best friend from their days in high school. They’ve stayed close ever since, even though Paul has lived in Dallas, Texas for the past quarter century and Scott lived outside of Ironton, in Willow Wood, Ohio.

He wasn’t the normal politician, or person of elected office. His humor was genuine, his greeting beyond categorizing you as Democrat or Republican. He was what he was and he allowed others the same privilege.

I asked him once, jokingly, if he was the county’s “hangin’ judge”.

“If I was I wouldn’t have any friends,” he joked backed. “Besides, who am I to judge to that extent?”

Bowling_inset0802He loved people. That’s right, the common pleas judge in Lawrence County loved people…and they loved him back. He enjoyed serving others, and did it without thought of its consequence to politics. He volunteered his time, his influence, and his reputation for character to every event he graced.

He enjoyed his family, his farm, the outdoors, and in the fall you found him in the deer woods and in the hills along Symmes Creek with his sons, outside Ironton.

He was committed to his church, and to the Gospel. That carried him through his four-year fight with a disease he knew he could not win, only endure. He shared his faith, and his testimony often reminded me of the story of Confederate General William Dorsey Pender, who was severely wounded on the battlefield at Gettysburg during the Civil War.

Terribly mutilated by artillery shrapnel, a staff member asked Pender if he was afraid, or concerned about dying and leaving his wife and young family.

“I am not afraid to die,” Pender confessed. “I can confidently resign my soul to God, trusting in the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. My only regret is to leave my wife and our children.”

Such was the witness of Scott Bowling to anyone who expressed regret over his illness – his fate in life.

“If it wasn’t this I guess it would be something else, maybe something worse,” he told me a year ago while we visited at the Lawrence County fair. “Every day is pretty good, though, if you can believe that; because you know you have to make the most of each one left.” His smile put everyone at ease, as if to say…things were bound to turn out fine.

I saw him three weeks ago, confined to his wheelchair. Nonetheless, he insisted on visiting my family reunion and sharing a positive witness in his darkest hour. He did it, though weak as a cat, with a smile.

Someone once told me that sometimes the best friend you have is the one you might not even know – the person you wouldn’t expect, that person who owes you nothing, and asks for nothing in return. A person who loves, and helps, without expectation. I’ve honestly met very few people like that in my 64 years.

And none, absolutely none, better than Scott Bowling.