Finding Yourself Through Bradley

A lawyer, a physicist and a teacher walk into a bar. No, this isn’t the start of a bad joke! It’s the story of Bradley alumni and brothers Jim, Don and Rich Bowles. The Bowles brothers were born and raised here in Peoria, and after graduating from Bradley they led lives that were as colorful and distinct as each of their personalities.

Jim Bowles ’66 is the oldest of the three brothers and was the first to attend Bradley before studying law at University of Illinois College of Law. His dedication to pursue a career in this field was reinforced in his political science class taught by Dr. William Witte. “That was my first class and he was my favorite teacher because he was a professor’s professor.” After graduating law school, he returned to Peoria and practiced law for 50 years at his namesake agency, The Law Offices of Goldfine & Bowles. 

The middle sibling, Don Bowles ’70 is described by his brothers as a renegade, a character and Mom’s favorite. He is very different from his brothers in both personality and career. He graduated from Bradley with a physics degree and went on to work with Philco-Ford’s space programs in California before becoming a federal officer until retirement. Don now lives in Spotsylvania, VA and joins his brothers on golf trips all over the world.

It was no surprise when Rich Bowles ’74, became a physical education teacher and coach, since he spent most of his free time at Bradley playing basketball where some of his fondest memories were made. “I got to play in some of the best pick-up games on the second floor of Hewitt,” he said, “and I remember in 1970 when the freshman played against the varsity players and only lost by two points.” Rich taught and coached at Illini Bluffs High School for 37 years.

Now retired, Jim and Rich acquired Pottstown Tap in 2020, a local hangout near Peoria. When they aren’t golfing, Don will return home and the three get together at their pub, have a pint and reminisce. Each of them may have taken a different path in life, but they are all proud of where they are from and to be a Bradley Brave. “I think I can speak for all of us when I say I felt lucky to go to Bradley. I knew it was a great stepping stone toward my future,” Jim said.

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