Almanac Obituary: Vale Michael Bowden


As Citrus Bob Utber mentioned earlier in the week, the world has lost a great man with the passing of Michael Bowden. I did not know Michael personally, but knew of him through common friends; it is these coincidences and intersections which make life so rich. And through two of his sons – Kane and Joel.


Over time, I developed an awareness and understanding of Michael’s immense reputation: his celebration of relationships and of ordinary life; his respect for all in God’s creation; his love of people; the place of family; a love of sport, especially footy. The Michael Bowden I imagined was the one I eventually met (at the Collingwood Swimming Centre there on Hoddle Street) and is the one described so beautifully in the Fairfax papers’ obituary which was put together by Sean, Kane and Majella (three of his six children) which also features his beloved wife Judy. [The link follows below]


Just last year, his son Joel was one of our special guests at the Almanac Grand Final Lunch. Joel has been a friend of the Almanac, for many years. As Kane has been, especially when he was leading the Lighthouse Foundation.


Over the years, my sister-in-law Janelle would tell us about ‘The Bowdens’. She is a Sheahan, son of John (‘Shorty’), who played for Richmond in the mid-1960s, and Marg, and grand-daughter of Maurie (who was full back in the 1932 and 1934 premiership sides).  Mike Bowden played for Richmond (in the premiership side of 1969). He’d started at Tigerland just as John was heading off to teach in the bush – in Mildura. By coincidence, The Bowdens went to live in the Sunraysia. The Bowdens and The Sheahans spent time together.


So we would hear of what The Bowdens were doing in central Australia and The Top End.


Eventually, I met Joel who was busily trying to implement another Richmond Five Year Plan. We always had a good chat. Our kids did Auskick together at Brunswick Street. They did swimming lessons together at the Collingwood Pool.


And we’ve stayed in touch since. The Bowdens are people committed to others, and shine the spirit of social justice.


Michael Bowden suffered MND, and sadly he died two weeks ago.


We send The Bowdens our deepest sympathies.


This obituary offers at least some insight into a man of great depth, great humanity and great action.


Vale Michael Bowden.


To read the obituary which appeared in the Fairfax papers earlier this week.  CLICK HERE






About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Well said Harmsy.

  2. A nice tribute JTH – I too never met Michael, but Rhett Bowden (and his wife Helen and their daughter) welcomed me into the family home on Christmas Island while I was a young intern doing a clinical placement there. He exuded every bit of “Bowden-ness” associated with his siblings you mentioned. Wonderful family and community-centred values.

    I’m sure Michael will be missed by many many people from far and wide. Thoughts with his loved ones.

  3. david bridie says

    Our label manager at Wantok, Amy is Michael’s niece. It was a difficult time, as you can imagine, with the lockdown, not being able to go up and see him in Darwin, and having to do an online funeral. Michael was a fan of a band we work with, the Black Rock Band from Jabiru. He was a man who everyone spoke of highly.

  4. steve todorovic says

    A truly great Australian who led by good example.

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