Yale University

In Memoriam

Jim Bowers


published by the Grundy Funeral Home

Jim Bowers
1964 graduation

James Winfield Bowers, a law professor at Appalachian School of Law, died on May 8, 2014 at age 72. He had been a professor of law for half of his life after practicing law in St. Paul, Minnesota. He first joined the law faculty of Texas Tech followed by the law faculty at Louisiana State University where he taught for 30 years, until his first retirement in 2012. He and his wife and law school colleague, Lucy Bowers (Lucy McGough), joined the ASL faculty and moved to Grundy in 2012.

Besides his wife, Jim is survived by his only brother, Joel Bowers, and his only sister, Jill Bowers, seven children and six grandchildren: son Jacob Bowers and his wife, Cara, and their two children, Marina and Cosmo; daughter Fairchild Dixon and her husband, Brent; daughter Lisa Hammann and her husband Andy, and their child, Cole; daughter Leah Adams and her husband Brock, and their three children, Lucy, Tyler and Elle; son Joseph Bowers and his wife Amanda; daughter Allison McGough; and son Benjamin Bowers and his fiancée, Alex.

Jim was an excellent, award-winning teacher and scholar, fully engaged in a life of ideas, but his family, including his beloved dachshunds, formed the core of his being.

He was born in Billings, Montana, on January 9, 1942 to Charles and Roberta Bowers. Jim loved the Rocky Mountains of his boyhood and all they offered, camping and fly fishing all his life and returning as often as possible to the mountains. He left Montana in 1960 after winning a National Merit Scholarship to attend Yale University. He was a member of his Class Council, the Political Union, ROTC, and the Yale Glee Club. After graduating from Yale with a degree in economics in 1964, he was one of the few undergraduates accepted for further study by Yale Law School. He completed his LL.B. at Yale in 1967 and went immediately into military service. He served for a year in Vietnam as a Captain in the U.S. Army.

His years in teaching brought him great professional satisfaction and many accolades, including being named to the Byron R. Kantrow Chair at LSU. Nationally, he served as a founding member and the Chair of the Law and Economics Section of the Association of American Law Schools. Jim served as a member of many law-school accreditation teams for the American Bar Association. He was invited and taught law-school programs on American law in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Belgium, Great Britain, and France.

Jim was a challenging teacher, but also kind, encouraging, and witty. He worked hard at teaching to the end that his hypotheticals were exaggerated and typically hilarious. He had a rare talent for friendship, remaining in close contact with law school, college, and high-school classmates in addition to students and colleagues he encountered throughout his career. He was never too busy to respond to any request for his help. He published over 20 articles and reviews in prestigious journals, principally in the areas of commercial law and bankruptcy. Throughout his life, he remained an extraordinarily loyal Yale alumnus and was appointed to the planning committee for his class’s 50th reunion to be held in May 2014.

As he wrote in his contribution to the Yale Reunion Year Book: “I’ve always known that the rural life does create norms worth preserving. I am back to fly fishing, but in Appalachian streams, driving a hundred miles to obtain everything on my shopping lists. Paddling back upstream to contribute to the survival of special virtues found in small town life on the retreating cultural frontier seems a suitable valedictory professional mission for an old son of the Rocky Mountain front.” Jim Bowers was a courageous, gentle, loving, likeable, gregarious, curious Renaissance man. He was a wonderful teacher, friend, father, and husband. He was a man for all seasons whose life was far too short to explore all his enthusiasms.

A brief memorial service will be held on Thursday, May 22 at 10:00am in the Lion’s Lounge at the Appalachian School of Law. Another service will be held in June in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at St. James Episcopal Church. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, gifts might be made in his name to the Appalachian School of Law or the Grundy Animal Shelter.