It is with great sadness that Hicksons acknowledges the passing of Peter Michael Bowen on 5 November 2022.
Peter Bowen was born in South Australia in 1931, and attended North Sydney Boys High School, matriculating in 1947. He then enrolled at the Law School of Sydney University and commenced his Articles of Clerkship.
He completed Articles with JDL Gaden. As a very youthful looking 20-year-old, Peter became manager of Gadens, Double Bay office. He was also settlement clerk, clerk, office assistant and tea maker.
On 8 May 1953, Peter Bowen was admitted to practice as an Attorney, Solicitor and Proctor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales by Chief Justice His Honour Mr Justice Kenneth Whistler Street.
In 1955, Peter became a partner in the practice JDL Gaden & Bowen, later to be known as Gaden, Bowen & Stewart and then for many years simply as Gadens (parts of which have since merged into Dentons).
By 1981, Peter was the senior partner of Gadens and moved to the City Office at real estate business Hooker House in Pitt Street. He became both Managing Partner and Partner in Charge of the Private Client Division. Under the terms of the partnership agreement Peter was obliged to resign from the partnership at age 65. In 1996, Peter joined Lane & Lane, then located at the offices he and Gordon Stewart had previously designed and occupied. His loyal clientele and core employee team followed.
In 2006, as part of the growth of Hicksons’ Corporate & Commercial practice, Peter joined Hicksons as a Consultant. Although he was not ready to stop practising law, he was forward planning a handover to new advisers to serve his faithful clients when he did retire. He found those people amongst the partners of Hicksons including, particularly, Anne Sandeman and David Fischl. Peter retired from Hicksons in June 2019 at the ripe old age of 88!
It was during his time at Double Bay that Peter’s lifelong commitment to giving back to the community began in earnest.
Peter joined and became President of the Double Bay Chamber of Commerce.
He joined East Sydney Rotary Club, beginning a life-long association with Rotary. He was President of East Sydney Rotary Club from 1963-1964. In 1984, he became a member of the Rotary Club of Sydney, was director from 1985-1987 and Vice President from 1992-1993.
In 2010, Peter was made a Paul Harris Fellow in recognition of his lengthy services to Rotary. Peter was of the view that community service was a duty and bestowing honours for it unnecessary. In a curmudgeonly fit, he initially refused to attend the lunch at which the Paul Harris Fellowship was to be awarded. He was only persuaded to leave his office by pleas that his family was in attendance, having travelled from as far afield as Wagga Wagga and Perth, and that his absence from the lunch would embarrass them.
Demonstrating both the quiet way he went about helping (and his dislike of waste), Peter would collect stamps from mail received in the office and donate them to Rotary to sell to philatelists to raise money for Rotary projects. His devoted assistant, Barbie Fong, still collects the stamps and sends them to The Rotary Club of Swan Districts in Perth.
Some of his other community service included:
1. advising Variety, the Children’s Charity from its beginnings in Australia in the mid-1970s;
2. advising Mission Australia during its transmogrification from Sydney City Mission to Mission Australia;
3. acting for the Benevolent Society, including during the period in which it was restructured from a statutory corporation to a company limited by guarantee and re-set its aims following transfer of the ownership of the Royal Hospital for Women and sale of the former hospital site at Paddington;
4. advising the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute (now Neuroscience Australia); and
5. a long association with The Australian Ballet as a Director and for a period as Chairman. During this time the film Don Quixote was produced by International Arts Inc. (Peter was Chairman) in Melbourne and premiered at the Opera House in 1973.
Peter was also a “weekend farmer” with properties in Mittagong, Bungonia, Goulburn, Lismore and more recently Wagga Wagga. In particular he loved spending his spare time gardening. He was also a great supporter of up and coming artists with his various homes filled with paintings and sculptures.
Peter would not approve of breaching client confidentiality by listing client names. Suffice to say, his clients included prominent artists, actors, singers, ballet stars and the doyens of Sydney. He was a trusted adviser to his clients, spanning multiple generations of families and the growth of family businesses into national and multi-national listed entities.
His intellect, commerciality, ethics and common sense were valued by his colleagues. Although never trumpeting the position he took, he was an early supporter of working women and the progression of female solicitors both in partnerships and on boards.
Peter Bowen is survived by his wife, Janet; sons Randolph, Nicholas and Matthew; six grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Peter did not want a funeral, just his ashes scattered on the river running near his former property in Ladysmith (Wagga Wagga).
Vale Peter – You will be missed.
May he rest in peace.