“People who couldn’t speak for themselves, she was their microphone,” said Daniel W. Thomas, a chef in Washington.
He would know.
Over 30 years ago, when Mr Thomas was around 1 year old, social workers rescued him from a troubled home, he said. Ms Bowser, who worked for Catholic Charities, saw him and immediately fell in love with him. Wanting to find him a good home, she called one of her best friends, a pastor, and told him he had to adopt the baby.
Ms. Bowser never had children, but Mr. Thomas considered her to be his godmother. She was one of the first people he called when he heard he would be a chef at the United States Capitol and when he served salmon and burgers to former President Barack Obama and his family as part of his inaugural festivities. Ms. Bowser, he said, had always pushed him to pursue his passion.
“I’m just trying to think about where would I be if this hadn’t happened,” Thomas said on Thursday, about a week after taking her to hospital when she complained of not not be able to breathe.
When Mr. Thomas was a teenager and Ms. Bowser’s health began to deteriorate, their roles turned and he said he began to “repay the favor and blessing” she had bestowed on him. He took her to doctor’s appointments and visited her often; she finally made him her proxy, he said.
Mr Thomas said she started feeling sick two weeks ago and took her to hospital where she tested positive for Covid-19. Doctors said it was safer for her to stay at home, but a few days later she called him back: “Baby, I’m having trouble breathing,” he recalled as he said on the phone. . He took her to the hospital again, and soon after her condition worsened and she was placed in an intensive care unit.
Her siblings, including the mayor, were able to visit her before she was intubated, Mr Thomas said. Shortly before his death, he was able to visit her once more, and he held a phone to his ear so that close friends unable to visit him could bid him farewell.