Lowell Reed Bowen, who was a fixture in Baltimore's legal and cultural community for more than a half-century and a managing partner of Miles & Stockbridge, died Tuesday of septic shock at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
The Cockeysville resident was 80.
"Lowell was an extraordinarily gifted lawyer with instincts and judgment that were simply unparalleled," John B. Frisch, chairman and chief executive officer of Miles & Stockbridge, said in an e-mail statement to the firm's employees.
"A corporate lawyer by training, Lowell was a lawyer in the broadest sense — his deep knowledge of many other areas of the law made him critical to the success of many of our clients. He resolved the thorniest of issues calmly, quickly and with a clarity that often sparkled."
Mr. Frisch added: "There were simply no lengths Lowell would not go for his clients or friends. For this reason he was blessed with many clients who became dear and lifelong friends."
The son of Calvert County tobacco farmers, Mr. Bowen was born and raised in Prince Frederick, where he graduated from Prince Frederick High School in 1948.
After earning a bachelor's degree in 1952 in literature from the University of Maryland, College Park, Mr. Bowen served two years as a lieutenant in the Air Force.
He earned his law degree in 1957 from the University of Maryland School of Law and clerked for a year for U.S. District Judge Roszel C. Thomsen.
In 1958, Mr. Bowen, whose specialty was corporate and securities law, joined Miles & Stockbridge and was named a partner eight years later. In 1974, he was elected chairman, a position he held until 1991.
Under Mr. Bowen's leadership, the firm grew from 21 lawyers in 1974 to 205.
When he turned 60, he stepped down as chairman, explaining to The Baltimore Sun at the time, "I think it's time for the younger folks to have a chance."
He was re-elected chairman in 2000 and in an interview with The Baltimore Sun said he had not sought a return to a management role but did so because "they invited me. I never say no."
"He was a remarkable man," said U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett, formerly a Miles & Stockbridge partner. "When I became a judge, I made special reference to Lowell. He was from the old school and practiced law as a profession and not a business. He made us all better because he set high standards for himself and expected his partners to meet them as well.
"He was simply inspirational. He made us all better professionals and people," he said.
Charles E. Fenton, retired Black & Decker Corp. general counsel, worked for Miles & Stockbridge during the 1970s.
"When I started at Miles & Stockbridge in 1974, I worked for Lowell. He was an extraordinary lawyer and was defined by two things: his intelligence and integrity," Mr. Fenton said.
"He was far and away the smartest person I have ever known. He had a wonderful understanding of the law and unerring instincts. Lowell was a man of absolute honesty, which came natural to him, and always put his client's interests ahead of everything else without fail," Mr. Fenton said.
In his role as general counsel at Black & Decker, Mr. Fenton frequently called on his old friend.
"I always sought out his advice when I was at Black & Decker. When it was a difficult matter, I always talked to him about it, and I never did not take his advice," he said.
In his e-mail, Mr. Frisch lauded Mr. Bowen's 50 years at Miles & Stockbridge.
"Lowell has had a greater impact on Miles & Stockbridge and is more responsible for its past and current success than any other colleague in our firm's history," Mr. Frisch said. "This is due to the quality of his lawyering, his unselfish example and leadership and the way he personally lived a credo he once coined — 'work hard, have fun, make money.'"
He retired in 2008.
Robert Ross Hendrickson, a longtime Baltimore attorney, recalled that "Lowell was a highly intelligent and unassuming man."
In addition to his legal work, Mr. Bowen had served since 1973 on the Governor's Commission to Revise the Annotated Code of Maryland, and in 1980 was named to the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Court of Appeals of Maryland.
He had been president of the Lyric Foundation, chairman of the board of the old Baltimore Opera Company and a member of the board of the Maryland Humanities Council.
H. Mebane Turner, president of the University of Baltimore from 1969 to 2002 and a director of the Lyric Foundation, was an old friend of Mr. Bowen's.
"Lowell's death is a real loss for the community. He was a great lawyer and board member. He was one of the city's most prominent lawyers and was greatly respected by all," said Mr. Turner.
"He was a very strong member of the Lyric board at a critical time when we were moving ahead. He was a wonderful board member and an example for others to follow," he said.
Mr. Bowen had taught at the University of Maryland School of Law and the University of Baltimore.
Mr. Bowen collected fine wines and enjoyed fine dining, said his wife of 52 years, the former Marilyn Sack.
He was a member of the Institute of Wine & Food and the International Wine & Food Society. He was also a member of the Maryland Club, Center Club, Southern Maryland Society and the old Merchants Club.
It was Mr. Bowen's wish that no funeral or memorial service be held.
"He said, 'If people wanted to remember me, they should raise a glass of wine or have a nice dinner,'" Mrs. Bowen said.
Also surviving are two sons, Mark H. Bowen of Reisterstown and David S. Bowen of Dallas; a brother, retired Judge Perry G. Bowen of Prince Frederick; and four grandchildren.