By Susan Motander
Fred Bowden, who died several days ago in Mexico, will be remembered at a service at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Arcadia on Friday, March 23rd at 10 am. The church is located at 512 W. Duarte Road. It is just east of Baldwin Avenue.
Mayor Tom Adams paid tribute to Bowden with the following comments:” Monrovia has lost an Icon. I have had the pleasure of knowing Fred Bowden as a friend for decades. During this friendship I have also had business dealings and dealt with city issues with Fred Bowden. It is my friendship that has counted the most. Fred was in many ways bigger than life itself. On one hand he was a tough negotiator and always fought to win the deal yet his generosity was unmatched. You can look all over Monrovia with signs of Fred and Diane’s generosity. Be it the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Kiwanis, Rotary, The Historical Museum and many others come to mind. The Bowden Name is permanently etched on so many places in Monrovia.
“I recall in the early 1990’s Monrovia was having some serious gang problems with regular shootouts on West Walnut. The Redevelopment Agency took out some problems structures and we looked for a developer to improve the housing stock. All of the builders said no thanks to the project, all Except Bowden. Perhaps his love of Monrovia drove him to do the project but when it was finished 6 families were handed the keys to their new homes, thanks to Bowden Development and The Monrovia Redevelopment Agency. A project that no other developer would do at the time was completed because Bowden was willing to gamble on Monrovia. His success is legendary and the number of families that have benefitted are many. One family comes to mind. One gentleman from one of the East European Block countries cried when handed his keys. He said this could never happen in his country. It happened here and continued to happen for many families until the Redevelopment Agency was taken away by the State of California.
“Monrovia is clearly a better place because of Fred Bowden, I was happy to call him my friend.” Tom Adams, Mayor of Monrovia.
Former City Manager Don Hopper who, during the days of Redevelopment, worked closely with Bowden on many projects including several Planned Unit Developments, renovations and new buildings also paid tribute to Bowden writing: “Fred was a true son of Monrovia. Having grown up here, Fred once told me he could live and work anywhere he wanted, but he wanted to do both here in Monrovia. This was his town. He said: ‘If I could make every neighborhood in our town just a little better that would be my lasting legacy.’
“And I think you can drive up and down most every street and see his fine work…he was a man of his work and Monrovia is a better community today because of Fred Bowden.
“We are all just heartbroken having lost such a good and generous friend. Few people live life fuller, have the opportunity to touch more people ad share more than Fred. Monrovia has lost one of our greatest citizens and friends.”
Chris Shevlin, his longtime Kiwanis pal recalled that Fred was a second generation Monrovia Kiwanian. He said that Fred was always the first to volunteer when Kiwanis called and never failed when called to act.
Monrovia City Manager Oliver Chi also paid tribute in his City Manager’s Update late week writing: “all of us here at the City pass along our most heartfelt condolences to the Bowden family for their loss, and our appreciation for all that Fred did to help make Monrovia the best community that it could be.”
I too was privileged to know Fred. He was larger than life in many ways. He was dedicated to his family and to this community. When I first met him, he seemed to be a rather over-the-top person. He appeared somewhat gruff at first glance, but when you got to know him, you realized all that bluster covered a truly genuine heart of gold. Monrovia is richer for Fred having lived here.
When I told my husband that Fred had died while on a hunting trip to Mexico with his wife Diane, his response was “I’m glad he was doing the things he loved right up to the end. Good for him.”
As I finish typing this piece, I have a shot of tequila next to me. I will be raising it in tribute to him in a moment. I think Fred would approve.