Bidding Farewell to Our Very First Member

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Bidding Farewell to Our Very First Member

July 2, 2015

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If we’re lucky, we can point to someone who was willing to take a chance on us when it really counted. For me, and for Angie’s List, Patty Bowman was one of those pivotal people.

We count her as one of our dearest and earliest supporters. In 1995, hers was the first door I knocked on when I started trying to recruit members to what would become Angie’s List.

It’s with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to Patty. She passed away on June 17. Even as we mourn, we join her family in celebrating her life. It touched mine after my co-founder, Bill Oesterle, and his family moved from Indianapolis to Bexley, Ohio, and into a house next to the Bowmans.

When I knocked on her door, I was a shy 22-year-old college graduate trying to get a new business idea off the ground. Knocking on doors was scary for me, and I’ll always be thankful for Patty’s cheerful welcome. She invited me in, asked what the company was all about and got really excited about being able to help. She said, “'Well, I'm going to buy a membership for myself and my son. How many members do you have?”

I confessed that Patty, her husband, Bill, and their son would give us a grand total of three members. 

After a good laugh, she took out her notebook and started listing all of her service providers. She also provided contact information for friends and others she thought might be interested in becoming members. Patty had lived in Bexley for years and seemed to know everyone. I’m forever grateful for her generosity in helping me start what we then called Columbus Neighbors.

She kept her membership with us, too, every year since 1995. When we celebrated 10 years in business, she told us that when I’d knocked on her door that first time, she thought it was Bill just coming over to introduce himself.

But she also said our idea was “fabulous” and this year, as we celebrated our 20th anniversary, she said she’d always been proud of her role in the company’s origins. She’d kept an eye on us from Bexley, she said, and was always happy to hear news about the company and about Bill and me. She still lived in the beautiful Victorian home where we’d first met.

I last saw her more than a year ago, when we visited Bexley to talk about expanding some of our services. She was as helpful and prone to laughter then as on the day we met. If I remember correctly, she said something like, “Well I don’t know if all of that is going to work, but if anyone can do it, you can.”

She was 77 years old when she passed away. We were blessed to have had her in our lives these past 20.

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