Paul G. Bower, prominent attorney, dedicated outdoorsman, devoted husband and father, and longtime resident of Pacific Palisades, died on New Year’s Eve of complications from a stroke suffered in 1995. He was 70. Bower was widely respected not only for his distinguished legal career as a partner at the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, but for his strongly-held belief that the law must be committed to justice and not merely to commerce. He served in the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., from 1967-69, a time of foment on the national scene, and donated his time and legal expertise to numerous public interest causes, including the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, now known as Earthjustice, among others. Although he had a highly successful career as a securities litigation partner with a preeminent Los Angeles law firm, Bower did not set out to be an attorney. Born in Chicago, he graduated from Rice Institute in Texas with a major in geology and a minor in physics in 1955. Following a three-year stint with the U.S. Army in Germany, Bower began graduate work in geochemistry at Caltech. But he soon realized he had a gift for argument and writing, and changed direction to pursue law. After graduating from Stanford Law School in 1963, Bower joined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, an international law firm, and developed expertise litigating antitrust, trade regulation and business tort disputes for major corporations. His victory in 1991 for Toyota in the California Supreme Court completely changed the law of tortious interference, an antitrust issue. Early in his legal career, Bower took a leave of absence in 1967 to move to Washington, D.C., where he served on the staff of the Kerner Commission, the popular name for the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, which looked into the civil unrest taking place nationwide in the mid-1960s. Working for the government fulfilled a long-held dream of Bower, whose family held closely to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vision that government could and should help make things better for the common man. Bower’s experience with civil disorder attracted the attention of then-Deputy Attorney General Warren Christopher, who asked Bower to join him as a Special Assistant in the Department of Justice under Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Bower was involved with dramatic events taking place in 1968 and 1969, including the demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic Convention, Resurrection City, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. After returning to his law firm in 1969, and over the next 25 years, Bower remained actively involved in public interest law while continuing his private law practice. Concerned about legal aid for the poor, Bower was active in the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles from 1975-1985. He also became a member, then chairman, of the Legal Services Trust Fund Commission which administers funds critical to California legal services organizations. For the past 21 years, Bower was a director of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, now known as Earthjustice, the “law firm for the environment.” A nonprofit, public interest law firm dedicated to protecting natural resources and wildlife and defending the right of all people to a healthy environment, Earthjustice enforces and strengthens environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations and communities.] Bower was an avid backpacker, biker and skier. He participated in several double-century bike rides, riding 200 miles in a day. He biked from San Francisco to Los Angeles after a six-month trial in San Francisco where he represented Memorex in a case against IBM. He backpacked and skied primarily in the Sierra Nevadas. The Bower family has lived in Pacific Palisades since 1965, where their three daughters, Stephanie, Julie and Aimee, were raised and attended local public schools, including Marquez, Paul Revere and Palisades High. Paul was a loving and proud father to his three daughters and a devoted family man. Friends will remember his following the town’s Fourth of July parade on his bike, gleefully announcing the arrival of his third daughter in 1970. Paul supported the Palisades-Malibu YMCA and the Palisades Democratic Club. He loved politics and was actively involved in many political campaigns at the local, state and national levels, including former Palisadian Cathy O’Neill’s nearly successful run for the State Senate in 1972. He loved music, classical to country western, was a good photographer, and had a wry sense of humor. He is survived by his wife, Elreen; daughters Stephanie, Julienne and Aimee Bower; son-in-law, Vinh Nguyen; two young granddaughters, Sylvie and Simone; and his sisters, Judith Henning of Denver, and Miriam Goulding Westfelt of Rockville, Maryland. He was faithfully and lovingly attended after his stroke in 1995 by caregivers Wesley Bucknor and Jack Clayter. A memorial gathering is being planned for later this month. Donations in Paul Bower’s name would be welcomed at: Earthjustice, 426 17th Street, 6th Floor, Oakland, CA 944612-2820 and/or the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, 1102 Crenshaw Blvd., L.A. 90019.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.