You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.



Zollner CEO Bowstrom dies at age 93

Took control in 1982, started as secretary in ’50s


Former Zollner Corp. CEO Marjorie E. Bowstrom died in late March. She was 93.

Bowstrom lived in Texas since her retirement from the Fort Wayne manufacturing company in early 1990. In recent years, she battled Alzheimer’s disease, according to her brother, Clyde Combs.

Bowstrom took over the iconic Fort Wayne company in 1982 when she was elected chairwoman of the board and chief executive officer, succeeding Fred Zollner. She became assistant to the chairman of the board in 1967, when Zollner was elected chairman of the board, and then was elected herself to the board of directors in 1978.

“She was very capable and handled it very well,” Combs said.

But she started out as Zollner’s executive secretary, having applied for the job in the 1950s in a desire to move back to her home state, Combs said.

He said she loved her work with the company, and particularly enjoyed her association with the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons. Bowstrom represented Zollner when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Combs said.

“She had an interesting life,” he said. “She thoroughly enjoyed the work.”

Her work at the helm of the piston manufacturing company brought many honors, including recognition as one of the top female business executives in the U.S., and she was on President Ronald Reagan’s Women Business Leaders’ Conference at the White House in 1984.

Most of the female executives in the late 1970s and 1980s headed companies in other industries, Combs said.

She was married to Ralph Bowstrom, who preceded her in death in 1985. The couple had no children.

But when his sister moved to Texas, Combs said she enjoyed being “Aunt Marge” to her many nieces, nephews and other family members.

Bowstrom also served on many local boards, such as Junior Achievement, Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, United Way and what was then Tri-State University. In 1989, Bowstrom chaired the Allen County United Way campaign.

In 1988, she was awarded the Helene R. Foellinger Achievement Award by the Fort Wayne YWCA.

Bowstrom died on March 31.

“Just like a businesslady would,” Combs said. “At the end of the month.”