Local News

Cary man at center of sign battle dies

Posted June 3, 2011 7:17 a.m. EDT
Updated June 3, 2011 12:12 p.m. EDT

— 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.