Donald Eugene Bowman dies at age 80

T. Rowe CEO had been called one of America's top money managers

September 09, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Donald Eugene Bowman, former president and chief executive officer of T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., who later established the Bowman Financial Management Co., died Monday of Alzheimer's disease at Gilchrist Hospice Care.

The former Stevenson resident was 80.

Mr. Bowman, whose parents were General Motors workers, was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, where he recalled in a 1994 interview with Who's Who Worldwide how the tough economic times of the 1930s shaped his life and propelled him toward his career.

"I remember riding my bicycle across the city of Dayton to get to the bakery that sold day-old bread, so we could save a penny a loaf on the purchase. I dreamed of making money, being successful and not having to worry about survival," Mr. Bowman said in the interview.

"As I was growing up, I worked at all sorts of jobs, from selling the Saturday Evening Post door-to-door, to being a caddie, to janitorial work, to working on the production line at General Motors," he said.

"I did not want to work on an assembly line my whole life. So I worked hard at anything that could give me a head start over my competition. My education took on a great importance to me," Mr. Bowman said.

After graduating from Roosevelt High School in Dayton, he earned a bachelor's degree in finance in 1952 from the University of Wisconsin.

He served in the Navy as a communications officer from 1952 to 1954 aboard the attack carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt. He then joined the faculty of the Naval Academy, where he taught economics for two years.

Mr. Bowman did postgraduate study in finance at American University, the Johns Hopkins University and what is now Loyola University Maryland, where he earned a master's degree in business.

He also completed the advanced management program at Harvard Business School and in 1978 graduated from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he majored in modern portfolio management techniques.

In 1956, he joined T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. as an investment counselor and economist, and later rose to become director of six Price mutual funds.

A nationally recognized authority in the pension field, Mr. Bowman was elected a director of the company in 1968 and was named president in 1974.

He succeeded Charles W. Shaeffer, one of the firm's founders, in 1976 as chief executive officer, a position he held until early in 1978, when he was named vice chairman of the board in charge of special projects.

In 1978, Mr. Bowman resigned from T. Rowe Price Associates "under a mutual agreement" because of "differences in management philosophy," The Baltimore Sun reported at the time.

He then established Bowman Financial Management Co. Inc. at One Charles Center and later relocated his company to Hopkins Plaza.

"From 1979 to 1993, he earned a 17 percent annualized return on equity investments that represented a 6905 time-weighted, cumulative return for investors," noted Who's Who Worldwide in 1994. "You bet your bottom dollar his track record is not based on luck."

In the 1994 interview, Mr. Bowman explained his philosophy of investing.

"Before you start a portfolio, remember you can reduce the company risk factor by 96 percent with proper diversification," he said. "Keep a minimum of 10 different market sectors and a maximum of 40 individual stocks. Then search for winners in each category."

"He was committed to Mr. Price's growth stocks theory of investing. You buy growth stocks and then put them away," said Richard W. Palmer, a partner in Brown Advisory who had been hired in 1969 by Mr. Bowman as an investment counselor at T. Rowe Price.

"He was a wonderful guy, extraordinarily positive, and the clients loved him. He had a wonderful smile, and no matter how bad the market was, he inspired confidence," Mr. Palmer said. "To younger people like me, he was a great mentor and someone I looked up to."

His professional memberships included the Investment Counsel Association of America and Baltimore Society of Financial Analysts.

Mr. Bowman retired in 2008.

Mr. Bowman had been president of the Towson University Foundation Board, director of the University of Wisconsin Foundation, president of the board of trustees of St. Paul's School for Girls and a trustee of the 4-H Society of Maryland.

He had been a visiting professor at Loyola in the graduate program on business strategy and investment analysis.

Earlier, he had taught at the Baltimore College of Commerce and had been a member of the executive committee of Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Maryland.

Mr. Bowman enjoyed biking, tennis, electronics and collecting United Nations stamps. He also was a gardener and traveler, and enjoyed attending the opera and symphony.

He was a member of Second Presbyterian Church.

Services are private.

Surviving are his wife of 26 years, the former Mary Louise Williams, from whom he was estranged at his death; a son, Clark W. Bowman of Essex; a daughter, Marylouise C. Bowman of Timonium; a brother, Horace Bowman of Charlottesville, Va.; and two granddaughters. An earlier marriage to Mary Louise Woodford ended in divorce.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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