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William "Bill" Bowes


1926 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
William "Bill" Bowes Obituary
William Ketcham "Bill" Bowes, Jr.

July 5, 1926 - December 28, 2016

William K. Bowes Jr., a native San Franciscan, venture capitalist and philanthropist, loving husband and loyal friend, has passed away. He died of cardiac arrest at home on December 28, 2016. He was 90 years old.

Born on July 5, 1926, Bill was the eldest son of William Bowes of Chicago and Ruth Garland Bowes of Santa Barbara. John Garland Bowes, his younger brother, died in 2005.

After graduating from Lowell High School in San Francisco, Bill entered Stanford University but his studies were cut short due to the outbreak of World War II. As a member of the Greatest Generation, he served in the U.S. Army infantry during the Second World War in the Western Pacific, including combat landings in the Philippines and Japan. Upon completing his tour of duty, Bill returned to Stanford and received a B.A. in Economics in 1950, followed by an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1952. Bill started his career in investment banking at Blyth Eastman Dillon, underwriting companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Raychem. Bill was an independent venture capitalist before becoming a Founding Partner of U.S. Venture Partners, one of the pioneering venture capital firms of Silicon Valley. One of his proudest successes was Amgen, a biopharmaceutical company, he was its founding shareholder and first Chairman.

In 1964, Bill met Ute Conchita Luemkemann while playing tennis at the Cal Club in San Francisco. They were married a year later and recently celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary. Bill and Ute loved to travel the world but always returned to their beach home in Mexico.

After venture capital, Bill transitioned into venture philanthropy. The William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation was formed in 1991 and has since supported projects having a significant impact in a variety of specialized fields. These include: UCSF, The Exploratorium, United Religions Initiative, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, SFJAZZ, Asian Art Museum, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Environmental Defense Fund, Stanford Bio-X, Harvard Stem Cell Research, California Academy of Sciences, KIPP schools, Teach for America, International Rescue Committee and many more.

Bill was an enthusiast of opera, jazz, and bluegrass. He was a senior member of the Hillbillies Camp at the Bohemian Grove. Bill always enjoyed playing dominoes with friends and watching his favorite Bay Area sports teams, the Warriors, and SF Giants.

Bill is survived by his wife, Ute Conchita Bowes, in-laws Doris and Peter Luemkemann; John Bowes' widow Frances Fay Bowes; and nieces Alexandra, Diana, and Elena.

We may never find a more decent, principled and caring human being than William K. Bowes Jr.

A memorial service will be held at the Grace Cathedral on February 6th, 2017, at 4:00 pm.

In lieu of flowers, you may make a contribution to the Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco. They provide housing, jobs, shelter, and essential services to help someone get off the street and stay off the street www.ecs-sf.org.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Jan. 8, 2017
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