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USF athletics pioneer dies unexpectedly

Richard “Dick” Bowers, who served as the University’s first athletic director and as an associate dean in the College of Business, died unexpectedly Wednesday.

He was 77.

His wife, Madge, said her husband suffered an aneurysm while sleeping.

He was taken to University Community Hospital, where doctors were able to briefly re-establish a pulse but could not revive him, she said.

“He was a true Southern gentleman,” said Madge, reached at the couple’s Temple Terrace home Thursday. “He was the best husband, the best father, the best grandfather anyone could ever have, a superb individual.”

Bowers, who began a 40-year career with USF in 1963, steered the Bulls’ athletics program at a time of early growth, when it introduced many of its first intercollegiate athletic teams.

He established soccer as the University’s first sport and led the charge to build the Sun Dome and USF’s first golf course and baseball field.

He resigned from his position with athletics in 1992 to become associate dean of the College of Business, a post he held until his retirement in 2003.

“Dick Bowers has been a very dear friend to the College of Business and we are quite saddened by his passing,” said Robert Forsythe, dean of the College of Business in a University press release. “He served this College, and the University, for many, many years, both as an employee and as a friend. We will miss him.”

Bowers, who served as a director at the Museum of Science and Industry after his retirement in 2003, was also well known in the community for his fundraising efforts with several local charities, most notably the Gold Shield Foundation.