Long-time Columbus radio veteran Bill Bowick died Wednesday night at St. Francis Hospital. He was 91.
A 1947 graduate of the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia, Bowick began his radio career that year at WALB in Albany, Ga., his hometown. It was at WALB that he launched his signature “Coffee with Bill” morning show that would follow him for years.
In 1955, Bowick moved to Columbus, where he would raise a family of six children and work the airwaves for almost 35 years.
Bowick worked first at WGBA, where he reincarnated his “Coffee with Bill” show and introduced his alter ego, Philup Space, a conjured comical character who liked to give guests a hard time.
In the early 1970s, Bowick moved to WRBL as program director, but he maintained his morning show there. In 1977, station owner Jim Woodruff died in a car crash and the station changed hands and formats and Bowick took a job at WEIZ until he left to help with the creation of Magic 98, WMGP, where he would work until health problems forced him to retire in 1989.
In 2008, Bowick was inducted into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame, in the same class of inductees as Atlanta Braves announcers Skip Caray, Ernie Johnson and Pete Van Wieren.
Jim Devitt worked on the air with Bowick for a couple of years in the mid-1980s at WEIZ, Easy 100. Devitt said he believes he’s the only partner Bowick ever worked with on the air.
“It’s the end of an era. There’s no one like him left in radio,” Devitt said. “Heck, there was no one like him back then either.”
Devitt said Bowick had a great laugh that went with a great sense of humor. He recalled an incident in which Bowick suggested on the air that Devitt might have taken his Cheez-Its snacks, which he liked to keep in the booth. They played the bit up and got a few laughs, Devitt said, but soon moved on and didn’t think much about it. But the next morning, a snack truck pulled up to the studio and delivered a huge box of Cheez-Its to Bowick.
“We mentioned them delivering all those snacks on the air that day,” Devitt recalled. “Then Bill stopped and said, ‘Jimmy,I think somebody took all my Budweiser.’”
Bernadette Bowick Coker, who is married to Columbus artist Don Coker, remembers her father as a loving, family-focused man who enjoyed spending time, especially swimming, with all his children.
“He was an only child and he always wanted a big family,” Coker said. “He loved swimming and always had a swimming pool in the back yard.”
Coker said Bowick would trade out professional services in return for vacation time, usually in Florida.
“He would do trade-outs for our vacation time,” she recalled. “We would go to down to Hollywood Beach, Daytona, Pompano Beach.”
Priot to getting his higher education and starting in radio, Bowick served in the Army in World War II. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and in all received five battle stars in the European Theater.
Bowick is survived by his wife of 67 years, Catherine, six children, 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
A rosary will be said Sunday at 6 p.m. at St. Anne’s Catholic Church with visitation to follow at the church from 6:30-8 p.m. The funeral mass will be conducted by Fr. J. Gerard Schreck, on Monday at 11 a.m. at St. Anne’s with burial at Fort Mitchell Cemetery.