BOWLES, RICHARD W.
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.