Williams-Thomas Funeral Home Downtown
404 North Main Street
Gainesville, FL

Richard W. "Dick" Bowles, nationally known bandmaster, outdoor writer, and sport fisherman, died peacefully at his home in Gainesville on December 7.

Bowles taught at the University of Florida from 1958 until his retirement in 1985. He directed the University of Florida Gator Bands from 1961 to 1975, and had over 400 published works of music. His outdoor writing career included the weekly columns "A Pinch of Salt" and "Outdoor Journal" for the Gainesville Sun, and the monthly "Big Bend Action Spotter" for Florida Sportsman. He was a teacher and mentor to thousands of people in the musical and outdoor worlds.

Bowles was born in Rogers, Arkansas, June 30, 1918. He graduated as valedictorian from high school at the age of 15. After touring as a musician for two years to earn tuition money, he graduated from Indiana University in 1940. He met the love of his life, Margaret Alice Thompson, at IU and they were married on May 3, 1941. Margaret ("Tommy") preceded him in death in July, 2007, after 66 years of marriage.

He served in the U. S. Army Air Force in World War II as a bandleader, and after the war he taught in Culver, Indiana, and Lafayette, Indiana, before joining the UF faculty in 1958. He led the Gator Bands through a period of rapid and sustained growth, and guided many students through the uncertainties of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. He wrote hundreds of compositions and arrangements for the bands, including the Gator fight song, Orange and Blue. He received the Distinguished Faculty Award from Florida Blue Key in 1973.

In 1975, Bowles stepped down as band director but continued to teach at the University. After his 1985 retirement, he expanded his second career as a journalist, photographer, and environmental advocate.

Bowles became a special friend of the Gainesville Community Band, serving as guest conductor of the band on many occasions. He composed the Band's signature piece, Tree City Fanfare in 2003. He worked with other local school bands, including Buchholz High School and Kanapaha Middle School.

A frequent guest conductor and clinician with bands, lecturer on fishing and environmental issues, and award-winning photographer, Bowles continued his journalism career until he sustained injuries in a fall in 2008.

Between his 80th and 90th years, Editions Musicales Européennes published 270 of Bowles' trombone duets, he wrote 120 monthly columns for Florida Sportsman, and several pieces for concert band. His book, A Pinch of Salt, based on saltwater fishing columns from the Sun, was published in 2002.

Bowles was inducted into the Florida Bandmasters Association Roll of Distinction in 2001, the first person so honored. Other musical awards came from ASCAP, Phi Beta Mu, Tau Beta Sigma, and Kappa Kappa Psi. He was honored numerous times by the Florida Outdoor Writers Association for columns, photography, and feature writing. The Gainesville Offshore Fishing Club was a special part of his life, and they presented him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

He is survived by his son Daniel A. Bowles and wife Karen, of Cleveland, TN, his daughter Mary Jane Ayers and husband Darrell, of Washington, DC, grandson Randy Payne and wife Rachel and great grandson Aiden, of Chattanooga, TN, and grandson Richard Bowles of Chattanooga, TN. A celebration of the life and music of Richard W. Bowles will be held in February.

Arrangements are under the care of WILLIAMS-THOMAS FUNERAL HOME DOWNTOWN, 404 N. Main Street.





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Published by Gainesville Sun from Dec. 11 to Dec. 14, 2009.
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18 Entries
It was very sad to learn today of the passing of both Mr and Mrs Bowles (and very coincidental that today is the one-year anniversary of his death). They were my parents' neighbors on NW 15th Avenue for many years. I'll always remember seeing him head off to school on his bicycle, no matter how cold it was outside! The first fish I ever cooked was from his catch. And, every time I hear the Gator Band playing Suwanee I see him standing there on Florida Field, tall on his podium, baton in the air, making the magic happen.
Helen Pittman Overdorp
December 7, 2010
I will never forget my time with the Gator Band and Richard Bowles. The Band was very active and vibrant during my two year stint at UF('63-'64). Mr. Bowles always demonstrated great discipline and tremendous regard for our marching display and musical quality...lessons that easily extend to other life activities. There was also a Mr. Dick Foster with the Band at that time who provided an excellent compliment to the organization.
Two wonderful rememberances, of many, were the first national tv appearance at Grant Stadium in Atlanta slogging thru the mud and rain, and Mr. Bowles and Mr. Foster inviting me to play in the '66/67 Orange Bowl/Parade with The Gator Band. What an honor that was, indeed!
Mr. Bowles, Well Done, rest in peace.

Dave Ahlquist
David Ahlquist
October 30, 2010
Dear Family,

I knew Rchard when he was Director of the Jefferson High school band in Lafayette, IN. He subbed in a Dixieland band, made up of mostly Doctors. After subbing one night wrote a piece he called The Anatomy Rag filled with many medical terms, and dedicated it to
The Crusty Crumbs,the doctors dixieland band.
Harley Frey,M.D.
October 21, 2010
Dear Danny,

I was truly saddened to learn of the passing of your father. As one of the few black students at Florida at the time, I felt that as a band member I was a part of the UF family in a way that I did not elsewhere on campus. One memory I will never forget was when I signed up to audition as Drum Major in 1968. He called me into his office to discuss the matter. By the end of the meeting he had impressed upon the racial climate on campus and how I might be received by an inebriated crowd in Florida Field. He told me that he did not think I would do anything to bring shame or ridicule to the Gator Band, but feared how I might feel if treated with scorn and disdain. He did not forbid my audition, but I chose to not proceed because of his advice and caring.

His warmth, humor and integrity made me proud to know Mr. Bowles. When I told him of my intention to test my vocation as an Episcopal priest, he was most enthusiastic and encouraging.

I am now a retired priest of 38 years in the ministry, but I will never forget Mr. Bowles who was my favorite professor (and may I dare say friend?) at the university. My prayers are with you and the Bowles Family.

Gratefully yours,

The Reverend Percival George Brown, 1969
Valley Stream, New York

Percy Brown
[email protected]
Percival Brown
June 5, 2010
May 30, 2010

To the family of Richard W. Bowles:
Richard was my band director at Jefferson High School, Lafayette, IN. I was the solo clarinetist of the band and orchestra. It was an honor and privilege for me to play under Richard. He helped guide my music career by assisting in getting a
scholarship to Indiana University.
Ned Diehl was Richard's graduate
assistant. Ned become Director of Bands at Penn State University. I
had a successful career as a professional musician with the Navy,
Kennedy Center, National Theatre, and
the Baltimore area. Richard inspired me to be a complete musician in all areas. He was 100% positive at all
times. With deepest sympathy to the
Bowles' family. Dr. Edward L. Hayes
Edward Hayes
June 1, 2010
My dear friend, Anne Chamberlin Summers (LongBoatKey, FL), sent me an obituary of Richard Bowles that was in the May/June issue of Indiana (University) Alumni Magazine! In addition, I was able to Google Gainesville "Sun" and found complete obituary. My senior year of high school was the only year at Jefferson High School, Lafayette, IN. It was a turning-point in my life. I played flute in Band, and had the privilege of learning from (and performing with) "Mr. Bowles." He truly is an ICON in the world of MUSIC, as well as in LIFE! Knowing how to encourage teenagers (and eventually, college students) to perform and ENJOY music is a GIFT which obviously has had significant impact on hundreds, and probably thousands, of youth! I'm grateful for the time I was privileged to play under the direction of Mr. Bowles~! What a legacy! My deepest sympany to the entire Bowles' family!
Phyllis Bourziel Sirotko
May 14, 2010
Dear Richard Bowles' family members,

I was a UF Gator band member for 4 years ('68 - '72, both symphonic and marching bands) under Mr. Bowles' leadership. He was a wonderful, much loved and greatly admired person. To me personally, he is very fondly remembered all these many years later. As someone else has aptly said, he was "one of a kind, from a different era."

I am so glad that I was fortunate enough to have been in the UF music program and benefited from his dedication, expertise, and enthusiasm for our program. I learned a lot from him, not only about music, but about working hard and never being satisfied with second best. He made me feel appreciated in the organization even though I was not a music major. I have often thought of him over the years and am truly saddened to hear of this death. To all of his family, my sincerest condolences.

Michael Lehtola, MD
San Francisco, CA
Michael Lehtola
February 25, 2010
Dear Dan and Mary Ann,
we never met but I lived next door to your mom and dad while in graduate school (1999-2002). Tommy had me over several times to keep the poor graduate student fed, and Dick took me under his wing for all things fishing, he even gave me my first boat (T-Bone's Stake) which he watched over daily as I repaired her for active duty once again. I also spent many hours with him on the boat and in his computer room listening to music he had composed. I just learned of his passing today and am so saddened by the great loss this is for all who knew him! He is the most generous man I know, both with his knowledge and time. He will always be an inspiration to me, in how to teach, listen, mentor, and also how to live life fully.
He is greatly missed.

Todd and Ann Osborne
Todd Osborne
February 14, 2010
The Richard Bowles that I knew was one of the kindest, gentlest, professional men I ever knew. But with that he had a impish spirit that he imparted to the members of the Gator Band...even though they may not have needed it.

He was one of a kind, from a different era.

His memory will always be with me.

UF Drum Major, 1968-1971
Lamar Sawyer
January 11, 2010
Dear Dan and Mary Jane,
Our thoughts & prayers are with you both following the death of your dad. He & your mom were good friends to both of my parents, Arnold & Grace Wirtala. My dad had an especially strong bond with your father through music and fishing.
Dick was a unique & profoundly dedicated individual and he will be sadly missed.
Condolences to you both & to your families.
Cathy Wirtala Keathley
January 3, 2010
Our deepest sympathies go out to the entire Bowles family. A treasure like no other was Richard Bowles.

I came to UF in January of 1970 as a new bride, helping my husband, Tim, finish his last undergrad year and go on to grad school. I interviewed for the job of Secretary to the Director of Bands, and when I got the job, I found a friend for life in Mr. Bowles. He and Tommy were responsible for regularly helping us stretch our food budget by providing us with fresh fish from the Suwannee River. It was not only cleaned, but presented as freezer-ready wrapped filets; they never did anything halfway.

He was not only down to earth and kind to everyone he met in person, but he also wrote an endless stream of inspiring letters to young musicians all over the country encouraging them to work hard to achieve their college dreams. Over the years, he also cheered me on when I decided to finish my education and become a teacher.

They were such a shining example of a truly loving couple, and they will both be missed dearly.
Rene (Irene) Brodeur
December 30, 2009
The Gator Band Alumni will all miss Richard Bowles tremendously. We always looked forward to seeing him every year. Please also look at the tribute on

His music lives on!
Paula Guerrein
December 22, 2009
Dear Dan and Mary Jane,

We add our condolences to all the many others. Your parents were both very dear to us, and will always be remembered.

With great sympathy,
Annd and Willis Bodine
December 18, 2009
Dear Mr. Bowles,

I so regret not taking the opportunity before your passing on, to have let you know of my thoughts concerning you. You took an interest in me when I was a high school freshman, having me play a solo for the varsity band. I recall turning white with stage fright. Your living example of integrity, some sort of superior way of handling things and an aura of excellence, left an indelible impression on me that I have never forgotten and have always profited from. I recall your tone and technique on the trombone reminding me of Jack Teagarden. When you left Jefferson High School in Sept. of 1957, at the start of my sophomore year, it just crushed me and every single member of the band. It was a loss that could not be recouped. So happy for you that you went on to such terrific achievements and lived life to the fullest. See you in 35 years or less.

Jack M. Young
Jefferson High School '60
Jack Young
December 17, 2009
I still think of you fondly and all the positive inluences you had on me. I will miss you Mr. Bowles. you were the BEST !!
Steve Alvarez
December 16, 2009
I am so Honored to have met Mr Bowles as a member of Gator Band in 96. It was impossible for me to here the Fight song and not think about him. He will truly be missed. R.I.P Mr Bowles..

Min. Bushear T Jenkins Sr.
Gator Band Alumni
Kappa Kappa Psi
Fall 1996-1997

Numbers 6:24-26
24The LORD bless thee, and keepthee:
25The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
Bushear Jenkins
December 14, 2009
The Sterrett family sends our deepest condolences to the Bowles family. Our Dad, Del, was on the UF music faculty with Dick. Many is the time all of us--our parents, Del and Jane, my brother, Jamie, my sister, Vickie, and myself--would come to your home in the 1960s on Christmas Eve. After singing a carol or two outside we would come in and enjoy the warmth of your family's hospitality. I also attended the Gatorland Clinic in the summer. Dick was always a very warm and friendly mentor and family friend. Our sympathies to you for your loss.
T.O. Sterrett
December 14, 2009
We wish to express our sincere sorrow over the passing of Dick Bowles. I am a contemporary of Dick's and have the utmost respect and admiration for his work in music. Dick was an uncommonly good human being. He never spoke ill of another person in my presence and was the most positive and pleasant person I've ever known. May he rest in peace. Jonathan and Dorothy Hill
December 12, 2009
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