Friday, January 14, 2011

IN MEMORIAM, William Marsh “Bill” Bower

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William Marsh “Bill” Bower died in Boulder on January 10.

    It is a significant event for the Boulder Flycasters; Bill was a founding BFC board member and will be missed.

    First, Bill Bower was the last living bomber pilot of Jimmy Doolittle’s historic raid over Tokyo early in WWII.

   He went on to a distinguished career in aviation and almost everything else. He was certainly one of Boulder’s most distinguished citizens and a mighty 93 at his death.

    But important to Boulder Flycasters: he was the chapter’s second president and was early and closely associated with Hank Roberts, Boulder’s pioneering manufacturer of fishing tackle and creator of what I believe to be the very first “fly shop”, as opposed to “sporting goods store”, in the nation.

     Bill Brewer was one of those who, in the midst of those exciting times for Boulder angling, met in 1968, with several other prominent anglers, upstairs over Hank’s beautiful shop in Walnut Street. There they began the BFC. Bill was a mover and shaker in all this.

     Though he was no longer active in the chapter when I got back to Boulder in 1991, the club was nevertheless close to his heart. One day during my editorship of the chapter’s newsletter, Bill called to say he had something of interest to show me. I went to his house, fell under his quietly magnetic spell and was shown a commercial display of 106 of Hank Roberts flies on a two foot square of faux knotty pine background.

     It was exciting for me as I too had an early association with Hank Roberts and admired him immensely.

     In  short, Bill wanted to give the flies to the chapter. I quickly grabbed at them, restored them where a few moths had got to them, and moved the club to have the display nicely framed.

    After which, the chapter placed the framed piece on permanent loan to the Boulder Historical Museum on Euclid Street where it remains today. It can be said that Bill Bower and Boulder Flycasters stepped in to rescue  an artifact of much importance to the city of Boulder and to its anglers.

    In the process of acquiring these flies, I visited Bill twice, and, like everyone else who knew him, came away in awe of this giant, but serenely quiet, modestly genial man of such wide and varied accomplishment.

    We recall that Izaak Walton titled his great book about us fishers, THE COMPLEAT ANGLER. Well, I think Bill Bower was the complete citizen, if not the complete man. The nation, the city, the BFC, and I are fortunate to have had him on our side.

Gordon Wickstrom

The Bouldercreek Angler

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