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Cary man at center of sign battle dies

Posted June 3, 2011

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— A Cary man who battled the town over a message displayed on his home has died, his daughter said Friday.

David Bowden, 69, died at Rex Hospital in Raleigh Wednesday, his daughter Dawn Brown said. He had lung cancer and had also contracted a bacterial infection.

Bowden spray painted the phrase "Screwed by the Town of Cary" on his house at 305 SW Maynard Road in August 2009.

He claimed a widening project left his yard void of trees and with a steep slope that funnels rain water into his home. He said he was frustrated by unsuccessful negotiations with Cary officials, including a request from him for the town to buy the house.

The town of Cary tried to fine him for violating town ordinances that specify how and where signs can be displayed, but the American Civil Liberties Union sued on his behalf, saying the message was political speech.

U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan ruled in December that the town violated Bowden's freedom of speech and ordered it to pay $46,197.27 in attorney's fees and court costs.

The town has appealed the ruling.

Bowden revised the message in February, inviting passers-by to tour "some of Cary's finest engineering and construction." It continues, "Oh by the way, now I have lung cancer, but remember I put up a good fight."

Bowden is survived by his daughter, her husband, his granddaughter, and his brother and sister-in-law.

A service to celebrate his life will be held at Fellowship Baptist Church Ministry Center, 1701 Bud Lipscomb Road in Willow Spring, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.


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  • robertkendricksmith Jun 6, 2011

    A. Mr. Bowden was a nut regardless of the city he lived in, RIP. B. The Town of Cary spends millions of dollars each year on their image. They even use forums like these to write pro-Cary things on them abd to discredit the problem. If they spent half as much time on their citizens as the do their image they might not be the most hated city in the triangle. With a reputation as good ol boys and sweep it under the rugers. A sign being perfect or your shrub being exactly 4 feet tall does not make the world a better place, show love or compassion. And every decision that is made doesn't have to stick. Has anyone ever heard the Town of Cary say "we were wrong?" Step it up Cary, swallow your pride, treat people better and try to love one another right now.

  • IzzMad2016 Jun 3, 2011

    @ carolinarox : I've had just 3 screen names -- Cary Is Awesome just came into the mix today and I didn't change it for any reason except to show my support for the place I choose to call home. I have no idea who ECCGC is, I honestly don't. And I don't look for ways to disagree with you or anyone -- opinions run the gamut on GoLo and we all post those opinions in varying degrees of passion. I respect your thoughts and opinions, I truly do and am not trying to pick a GoLo fight. I promise. Pinky swear!

  • anastasia Jun 3, 2011

    Christopher Reeves wife Dana, died of lung cancer, never smoked a day in her life. Terrible to use stereotypes to blame people for their own illnesses. A dear friend of mine is dying of bladder cancer. Never drank nor smoked, both can be causes, and he is a vegetarian who bikes in marathons, very health conscious. So let's not pick on sick people, please.

  • OSX Jun 3, 2011

    I bet, if his daughter approaches Cary, they will help anyway they can. Including the offer they gave to David. David tried to bully people to get his way. If she does, you will see a Town of Cary backhoe out there fixing this problem.

    The last two years of his life wasted fighting over a sign. Good Grief.

  • tired2 Jun 3, 2011

    tibicina...I never argued against the right to free speech...as for having a say...vote..run for office...get involved in the election process...make a difference.

  • tibicina Jun 3, 2011

    tired2... I grew up in this man's neighborhood and my parents still live there (we lived around the corner from his house since 1970). I've disliked the paint job since it first appeared, but believe that he has the right to protest how he was treated. Cary residents (particularly long-time residents who actually OWN their homes there) have so little say in how town projects are managed.

    As for the next-door neighbors? I wonder why the owners of the houses on either side of his haven't also expressed outrage over Cary's willful reduction of their property values. I certainly wouldn't buy any of the houses in that block.

  • With The Rush Of Angels Wings Jun 3, 2011

    osx, you are right about that

  • tired2 Jun 3, 2011

    J.Melton...proved my point

  • OSX Jun 3, 2011

    Sad. On his deaths bed, he could of been talking about seeing glaciers in Alaska, the beautiful waters of the Caribbean, and so forth. But NO, I want to spend my last two years here fighting over an ugly house; that he neglected. What an absolute waste of a retirement. I promise you, I am not going to do this.

  • tired2 Jun 3, 2011

    Folks,here are the facts (and my heart felt condolences to his family - cancer is a dreadful disease)
    1. Free speech right prevailed over the sign law (I still agree with it for businesses). Foul language is just poor judgment
    2. The house is and always has (in my 8 years driving by)not very well kept - his own drainage issues, mold, full gutters.
    3. The right of way had been established long before he purchased to home...so it was there and available to be used by the town with NO bias
    4. He won the court battle on the sign law - nothing else
    5. He refused drainage help from the town
    6. People on this post either love or hate Cary. Live here if you do, leave if you don't...no bother to me...I don't eat or drink with you. 7. Life is precious...quit the garbage...hug the ones you love...lets stop bickering...the world may just then become a better place.