C. Keating Bowie, 92, city corporate lawyer

July 01, 2005|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

C. Keating Bowie, a retired Baltimore corporate lawyer and former chairman of the board of trustees of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, died of cancer yesterday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. He was 92.

Mr. Bowie was born in Baltimore, the son of a lawyer, and was raised on Calvert Street and in Guilford. He was a 1932 graduate of Gilman School and earned a bachelor's degree in economics in 1936 from Princeton University.

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1939, Mr. Bowie returned to Baltimore and joined Bowie and Burke, his father's law firm, which later became Bowie, Burke and Leonard.

From 1942 to 1943, he served as an assistant city solicitor, and during the 1940s he served on the boards of the Legal Aid Society and the Peale Museum.

For several years, he worked for the Baltimore law firm of Miles & Stockbridge before being named a partner in 1968 of the firm of Cable, McDaniel, Bowie and Bond, now McGuire Woods LLP.

"He was an extremely good corporate lawyer and was respected and well-known throughout the legal community. He was very precise and thorough and everything had its place," said John E. McCann, a retired law partner.

"He wasn't shy - remember he'd been a wrestler at Gilman and Princeton - and was a very aggressive lawyer. He was outspoken, and you never had to worry about where he stood.

"He was always open to new ideas and he would patiently listen. Sometimes he'd go your way; but most of the time we went his way," Mr. McCann said.

Mr. McCann described Mr. Bowie as "old-fashioned and very proper," recalling how "he always addressed everyone in the office as `Mr., Mrs. or Miss,' no matter who you were."

From 1955 to 1986, Mr. Bowie lived on Merryman Court in Roland Park, and also at Evergreen Farm in Oxford, which overlooks the Choptank River.

"He and his wife would host outings for the staff and their families - including children - at their farm and they were always so enjoyable," Mr. McCann said.

Although he retired in 1986, Mr. Bowie continued to maintain an office in the firm's Blaustein Building headquarters in downtown Baltimore.

During the 1960s, Mr. Bowie had served as an adviser on housing matters to Baltimore Mayor Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin and was appointed by Gov. J. Millard Tawes to head the 10-member Commission on the Revision of the Corporate Laws of Maryland in 1965.

Perhaps Mr. Bowie's most enduring association was that with the Pratt Library, which began in 1947 when he was named a trustee. For the next 31 years, until stepping down as board chairman in 1978, he served as board secretary and vice president and a variety of other positions.

In 1966, the Peabody Library was placed under the Pratt's aegis, and as president of the board at the time, Mr. Bowie played a key role in raising money for the renovation of its building and collection, which also included air conditioning the library's rare book room. He was also on the library's board when the state library system was established.

"He was such a supporter of the library, and it's difficult to hear of his death," Dr. Carla D. Hayden, Pratt director, said yesterday. "He was committed to literacy as opportunity and libraries as a place for people to realize their potential."

Although Mr. Bowie had stepped down from the board 27 years ago, he continued to offer his advice to library officials.

"He continued attending library events and was still doing it well into this year. He'd come to book and author signings because he wanted to show his support," Dr. Hayden said.

"And as a veteran trustee, he was helpful in giving me the historical perspective on some issues that were long standing. And it was important for me to hear what happened in the 1950s and 1960s," she said.

Mr. Bowie, who had a lifelong interest in Maryland history and early maps of the Chesapeake Bay, had served on the boards of the Talbot County Library and Talbot County Historical Society. He was a former member of Seventh Baptist Church at North Avenue and St. Paul Street.

He was a member of the Maryland Club, Elkridge Club and the Hamilton Street Club.

Earlier this year, Mr. Bowie and his wife of 51 years, the former Alice T. Forbes, who had been an Evening Sun reporter and woman's page editor, moved to the Brightwood retirement community in Lutherville.

Services for Mr. Bowie will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. David's Episcopal Church, 4700 Roland Ave.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Bowie is survived by two sons, C. Keating Bowie III of St. Michaels and Walter W.W. Bowie of Still Pond; two daughters, Elizabeth Bowie, a Sun reporter, of Ruxton and Helen B. Campbell of Towson; a brother, Robert R. Bowie of Towson; and five grandchildren.

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