Remembering William K. Bowes, Jr.

29 December 2016, 12:14 PM

William K. (Bill) Bowes, Jr. died on Wednesday, December 28, 2016 in San Francisco after a long illness.  Bill was a beloved member of the President's Council and a pioneer philanthropist in URI. Read the homily offered by The Right Rev. William E. Swing, URI President and Founder, and lifelong friend, at Bill Bowes' memorial service on February 6, 2017.

William and Swing on a podium

Bill Bowes and Bishop Swing at the inaugural Circles of Light Gala.

At the first Circles of Light Gala in 2003, Bill Bowes was the honoree because of his forward-looking vision for URI and for his generous financial backing.  In addition, his brother John instituted the Bowes Award for URI in recognition of Bill's vital role. 

Bill shaking hands with a Muslim representative

Bill Bowes with Mary Swing and a representative from CAIR.

Bill having a conversation in a circle

Bill Bowes with former URI Executive Director Charles Gibbs and his family.

bill and his wife with victor

Bill Bowes with current URI Executive Director the Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian, Jr. and his wife Michelle.

"Simply put, URI would not have grown globally were it not for Bill Bowes' backing," says the Right Rev. William E. Swing, President and Founder of URI.  "He has been a treasured friend and colleague, and I will be ever grateful for his substantial help and his friendship." 

Bill again with Swing in a photo together

The Right Rev. William E. Swing with Bill Bowes and his wife, Ute

The URI community is encouraged to offer their thoughts and prayers for Bill and to give condolence to his wife, Ute. Please send your messages to [email protected].


As Bishop Swing has so beautifully shared, URI could not have flourished without the care, commitment and generosity of Bill Bowes. It was my pleasure and honor to get to know Bill over these past three years. When hearing the latest update of the work of URI, a broad, appreciative smile would inevitably break across Bill's face. He loved to hear about the work of the URI community throughout the world. We will dearly miss his gentle, kind and wise presence. Our prayers go out to Ute and to all his family and friends.

In peace...

The Rev, Victor H. Kazanjian Jr.

Executive Director

United Religions Initiative


We send our condolences to the family and friends of Bill Bowes.

Bill Bowes will always be remembered in our URI family for his generous support and acknowledgement of the potential role that URI could play in the realization of building an interfaith network that cultivates peace and justice in the world.

In Peace & In Love,

Audri Scott Williams, Global Council Trustee for URI Multiregion


Our heartfelt condolences to the Bowes family, so dear to all URI friends around the world.

Abraham Karickam

Regional Coordinator, India, South Zone


Please accept our sympathy,

Rest in Peace,

Ravindra Kandage,

URI Sri Lanka  


Bill Bowes was not only the financial backbone enabling URI's growth but he was also a real believer in your vision, Bill, and in the adventurous organizational design we were all embarking on. I recall his merry eyes and beaming interest in URI whenever we spoke. 

My sincere condolence to his family and my profound gratitude for his delight in URI all these years. Blessings of God's loving grace and comfort to Bill's family.

With care,

Sally Mahé

Director of Global Programs and Organizational Development



Indeed a great loss to humanity! May his soul rest in peace. Aamin! Such souls are rare and they are placed in Jannah for being a promoter of love and compassion all over the world. 

As you expressed in your mail URI his vision and his action made URI a global movement. We are indebted to him for all his mentorship and support.

Heartfelt condolence and may Allah provide strength and patience to his family.

In grief,

Qutub Jahan

URI West India Cooperation Circles and Staff. 

Regional Coordinator, West India.
Deputy General Secretary,
URI Asia Executive Council


May God protect Bowes family. May Bill Bowes rest in peace!!

We thank him for all he has done for us!

Campinas CC - Brazil


May the departed soul unite in oneness and rest in peace, forming our celestial cooperation stronger. May the divine shower endless blessings upon his family. We the members of Ektaan Cooperation Circle of India eastern region, (recipient of Bowes award), express our gratitude, appreciation for the support of Bowes family through URI, and you would be glad to know that without the support of such an award, Ektaan Cooperation Circle would not have reached the level of success of connecting more than 1000 musicians and 5000 affiliates across the country , fostering interfaith cooperation through music and art. We keep the Bowes family in our prayers.


Biswadeb Chakraborty,

URI East Region and President of Ektaan Cooperation Circle


We are very sad to learn that Bill Bowes has departed into the other world. We have lost a precious friend with a vision to support interfaith peace, justice and healing. We are so grateful for his generous support which allowed URI to become the unique global maker of positive change that it is. 

Personally, I will never forget that the prize which his brother started in his honor, which made it possible that 10 young people from Bosnia, Cyprus, the U.K., Germany and Turkey could attend our intergenerational Jewish-Christian-Muslim summer week that DMLBonn Cooperation Circle co-founded and co-led with its partners at Ammerdown. And all of them expressed their inspiration, learning and commitment to continue this interfaith journey after the week. 

We will miss Bill Bowes' being with us, as a friend and supporter. 

May Bill Bowes' soul be in peace and bliss. And may his wife and family find consolation and strength.

Many warm greetings from

Karimah Stauch

On behalf of URI-Europe


Condolences! He and you are in my meditation and prayer for reborn in heaven.

May peace prevail on Earth! 

Jinwol Young H. Lee

Regional Coordinator, Korea