This article originally appeared in The Bar Examiner print edition, Winter 2018-2019 (Vol. 87, No. 4), pp 50.
Clyde Owens Bowles, Jr., former chair of the NCBE Board of Trustees (1978–1979), passed away on October 12, 2018. The following is a tribute to Clyde written by Stuart Duhl, who chaired the NCBE Board of Trustees from 1991 to 1992.
By Stuart Duhl
The legal profession has suffered a significant loss with the passing of Clyde Bowles on October 12, 2018. Clyde, a former member of the then-named Illinois Board of Law Examiners (now the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar) and former chair of the NCBE Board of Trustees, continued to practice law well into his 90th year with the same spirit and dedication as when he began practicing law as a graduate of Yale Law School in 1951.
Clyde was born on February 2, 1927, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Clyde and Carrie Thacker Bowles. He received his undergraduate degree in economics with distinction and with honors from Northwestern University in 1948. Following his graduation from Yale Law School in 1951, he practiced law for three years in Kansas City and then moved to Chicago, where he preferred to live. As a young lawyer, he went to work in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. There he spent four years heading the prosecution of complex financial (white-collar) crimes. While deeply involved in and dedicated to his work, he also found time to court and marry his beloved Alice, who preceded him in death in early 2018.
Following his work in the office of the State’s Attorney, Clyde embarked on a career in private law practice. Over the years, he helped thousands of people both as a volunteer and in professional service. Most prominently, he practiced with the firm of Burdett, Bowles and Radzius, having joined forces with two high-profile lawyers specializing in food and drug law. Clyde, in the meantime, continued his career in litigation and representing business clients. He became very active in representing certain Japanese clients and later was honored for his work with the Japan-America Society. He was elected president of the Japan-America Society of Chicago and became chair of the National Association of Japan-America Societies. He later received a prestigious award from the Emperor of Japan: the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon.
Clyde relished his role as chair of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, as well as his interaction and contact with former NCBE chairs. He was able to attend a reunion of NCBE chairs a number of years ago and always spoke very highly of NCBE and the friends he had made throughout the country as a result of his role with the organization. Clyde was also active in the American Bar Association, including the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, and at one point was a member of the ABA House of Delegates.
Clyde was also a spiritual guide to many. His active questions about faith were intellectually rigorous. He joined the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago and rose to become chair of its Board of Deacons. This church played a central role in the life of Clyde and Alice, rewarding them with many new friends and rewarding those new friends with a dedicated and passionate spokesperson in Clyde.
During his later years, Clyde joined the firm of Harrison & Held LLP, where he practiced for over 10 years before his death. He also became a certified mediator and was a member of the Chicago International Dispute Resolution Association. Even though somewhat physically hampered, he refused to cut back on his work, persevering with enormous dedication to his clients and not-for-profit endeavors. Earlier in 2018, he was acknowledged as an honorary cofounder of Enclave for Entrepreneurs, a Chicago-based not-for-profit public-private partnership gateway for the world’s entrepreneurs and their influencers. Within the firm, he was known as a compassionate person, and he developed friendships with many of the organization’s employees. A close friend of Clyde’s, John Dallas, said it best: “He was a humble giant among us. Sadly, I fear many will only recognize this fact now that he is no longer with us. His clever, understated, and purposeful spirit, however, is everywhere.”
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