Bowen Scarff, founder of Kent Ford dealership, dies at age 94

Opened Bowen Scarff Ford in 1958; played large role in Kent community

Bowen Scarff

Bowen Scarff

Bowen Scarff, founder of Kent’s Bowen Scarff Ford in 1958, died April 28 of natural causes at age 94.

Born John Bowen Scarff on May 14, 1927, he died at home with his wife, Janie Scarff, and oldest son, Mike Scarff, at his side, according to an obituary posted on the Marlatt Funeral Home website.

Bowen Scarff’s father, Way Scarff, opened a Ford store in Auburn in 1922, selling iron-wheel tractors and Model T’s. Bowen Scarff sold cars and trucks at the Auburn store until he purchased his own store in Kent in 1958. Bowen Scarff Ford started with 11 employees in a one-car showroom floor, according to his obituary. In 1964, the company outgrew the “Colorful Ford Corner,” and moved to its current location in Kent, 1157 Central Ave. N.

“Founder and owner, Bowen Scarff, believed shopping for a new or used Ford should be fun,” according to the Bowen Scarff Ford website. “With his vision, we earned the reputation as the ‘Believable Ford Store in Kent’ by avoiding the gimmicks and games seen at many other dealerships.

“In 1993, Bowen Scarff and current owner and son Mark Scarff pioneered an all-new Ford shopping experience in Seattle. For over 30 years, customers have praised our simple, hassle-free, and negotiation-free new and used vehicle buying process.”

Bowen Scarff credited the company’s success to the many wonderful long-time employees he had over the 60-plus years in business. The company was selected for the prestigious Time Magazine Dealer of the Year Award in 1975 and has won the prestigious Ford President’s Award 16 times.

Heavily involved in the Kent community, Scarff served as a commissioner of Valley Medical Center in Renton from 1968-1973. He was president of the Washington State Automobile Dealers Association as well as president of the Kent Rotary Club, Kent Chamber of Commerce, Puget Sound Auto Dealer’s Association and the Ford Dealer Advertising Association.

He also was instrumental in the creation of Meridian Valley Country Club that opened in 1967 in Kent. He was a founder of Crystal Mountain Ski Resort. One of his beloved contributions is the Scarff Family Endowment at Green River College in Auburn that’s provided hundreds of scholarships to students in the Auto Technical school.

Bowen Scarff was the second of three sons. He was born in Tacoma, and grew up in Redondo, near Des Moines and Federal Way. He attended school in the Federal Way and Auburn school districts. After graduating in 1945 from Auburn High School, he immediately enlisted in the Navy. After the Navy, Bowen he attended the University of Washington where he made lifelong friends as a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

Bowen Scarff married Jane Marie Magnuson on Sept. 25, 1954. Their first real date was a sailing from Seattle to Vancouver on Bowen’s sailboat with his brother, Cal Scarff and his date. Bowen and Jane Scarff had four children; Mike, Mark, Kristina and Stuart and were soon active in the Kent Swim Club and school athletics. They loved winter trips to Crystal Mountain and summers at their vacation home on Pearl Island in the San Juan Islands.

He is survived by his four children, 12 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. A Celebration of Life will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 31, at Meridian Valley Country Club. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Children’s Hospital in Seattle.


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COURTESY PHOTO, Bowen Scarff Ford

COURTESY PHOTO, Bowen Scarff Ford

Bowen Scarff

Bowen Scarff

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