For me this as a complete career change. I was working at Duke University as a programmer and IT specialist. The job at Word Perfect was for a Technical Writer. They wanted me because I had eight years’ experience as a user and that was quite rare in the technical writing world.
As hard as it was, we felt the time was right for us to leave North Carolina. The ward we ended up in was the Northridge 2nd, where we are even as I write this. Once again, we found ourselves in a great ward that had a great spirit about it. The bishop of this ward was Chris Dowling.
He was only in as bishop for a very short time once we got here but he was legendary. He was raised Catholic back east came to BYU to study and to play basketball. He didn't make the team but he did win the role of Cosmo. He was also baptized while at the Y which was not his intention when he chose to attend BYU.
After his time at the Y, he and his small family left for Italy to play in the European Basketball league. Though he loved the sport, he realized that such a life was not conducive for his family. So they left Italy and he started a career as a successful business man. No matter what he did he succeeded.
He and Cheryl were members of the ward for a long time before we arrived. He was known for his seemingly cavalier lifestyle in a very conservative stake. Legend has it that when he was called to be bishop, the ward was stunned and Becky Wiser, in her not so quiet voice, blurted out: “He is not bishop material.”
Well, she was right. He was not your standard Utah bishop. Instead, he was just awesome. His most noted achievements was pulling people out of sin and helping them become better. He called Skip Glancy and Mike Jorgenson as counselors. Both were inactive and had serious issues. But he changed their lives.
Perhaps more important was how Bishop Dowling came to the aid and the Dusara family as they dealt with Mehul’s devastating accident. Bishop Dowling single handedly rallied the ward, stake, and community to obtain a large Ford van to accommodate the Dusara’s two disabled children.
His favorite story of this truly Christian act was after he delivered the van to the Dusara’s. He came home and told his children what had transpired. His young son, Chris, wanted to know what type of van it was. He asked his dad if it had a sound system. It didn’t. He asked if it had paneling on the inside. It didn't. He asked if it had luxury seats. It didn't.
Finally he said: “Dad, what kind of van is it.” With tears in his eyes, and understand the greater sacrifice it took from so many people and the joy it brought to the Dusara family, Bishop Dowling told his son: “It is simply the most beautiful van in the world.”
This church can use more bishops like Bishop Dowling.