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             Saturday February 26, 2011 

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Remembering Sir Barry Bowen
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Remembering Sir Barry Bowen
Barry & Dixie

February 26, 2011 marks the first anniversary of the untimely death of Sir Barry Bowen.  His memory will forever remain fresh, vibrant and most important in a vivacious spirit. Wife, children and family members remember his charming and understanding nature.

Employees and associates remember his fairness and openness in conducting business. Friends remember a good-natured and joyous individual. The country of Belize remembers Sir Barry Bowen, the man who assisted in the development of Belize in a multifaceted manner.

Finally our community in San Pedro remembers a Sanpedrano who loved to party, loved to be involved as a philanthropist, and loved to boast about the good things of La Isla Bonita. And because we have a lot to boast about him in similar manner, we raise our glasses and say: “Cheers Barry, This Belikin is for you!”

The Island Academy Remembers
Students, faculty and staff of The Island Academy held a short memorial ceremony during their morning assembly today, Friday, February 25, 2011. Students sang a special song and Jackson Leslie recited a poem for Sir Barry Bowen, Lady Dixie Bowen read a short tribute to her husband, the Belizean flag was raise at half mast at the school and flowers were dispersed at the end of the Bowen pier in remembrance of the late Sir Barry Bowen. A short but very special ceremony for a very special man.

Bowen Family to Celebrate Barry’s Legacy
Letter dated February 23, 2011

Dear All:
“We are sadly aware that the anniversary of our father’s death will be on the 26th of February. While alive, Sir Barry thought very little about death, instead he celebrated life to the fullest. Therefore, we have chosen to celebrate his legacy in September, at the Sir Barry Belikin Bash, around the time of his birthday. He loved this event because it stemmed from his competitive nature and determination to make Belikin “The Beer of Belize”. We will always celebrate his life and his legacy at a time of year that he loved, not at the time of his untimely death, and we hope you will join us then to raise a cold Belikin in his honor.”
Thank you.
The Bowen Family

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I doubt that there are more than a handful of Belizeans who have not been uplifted in one way or another by the late Sir Barry Bowen. Sir Barry provided numerous jobs for Belizeans with his many business ventures in Belize, and most of those workers and their families are still supported by the Bowen and Bowen Group of Companies, as well as by Lady Dixie at the Island Academy School, and various other organizations in Belize and throughout the world.

Last year on February 26, in a grass skirt and print shirt, I was headed to pick up a mother of two children attending the Island Academy, as we had planned to work that night at the Luau Fundraiser. The decorations had been placed, the tables were set up, lights were turned on. The bar and the games were ready. The tragic event if that night changed everything. The leis and beads that were intended for an island fundraiser became ribbons of sadness, cloaked around the necks of those who came the following night for the wake of Sir Barry.

A memorial service was held in San Pedro on Monday, and on the following day, a state funeral took place in Belize City, with a procession unheard of. The hearse taking the family and Sir Barry to Cayo was met with hordes of people, standing on the sides of the streets, their hats off, their hands over their hearts. Large groups of schoolchildren lined the way as well, respectful in their best school uniforms, and bowing their heads.

Sir Barry was a business genius, and spread his success to all parts of Belize. From San Pedro to Belize City, to Gallon Jug and Placencia, thousands of Belizeans learned a skill, or got an education because of the generosity of the man. It was only after his passing, that many of those persons came forward to tell stories about how he had put one of their children through school, or funded another’s treatment for a life threatening illness. While Sir Barry was a generous man, he could be cantankerous as well, and many mistook his gruff voice and stern tone as a person who could not be touched. This was far from the truth.

Sir Barry had made several flights from Belize and Gallon Jug on that fateful day, bringing in his children and grandchildren for the festive fundraiser. The last flight, with Mike and Jill Casey and their children, proved to be his final flight, after 34 years of flying. No one is sure exactly what happened. To many it does not matter. To the parents of Mike and Jill, it only mattered that their children and grandchildren were gone. To the family and friends of Sir Barry, it only mattered that a husband, father, grandfather, and friend was gone. Many of us in San Pedro were in a blur and a state of shock for many months afterward. In Gallon Jug, a small community, the shock was doubled, as they lost a friend, a boss, and a father, as well as two of their school teachers and their children. We have all done the best we could to muddle through the madness and try and return ourselves to some sort of normalcy.

A year has passed, and it is still hard to imagine that he will not come around the corner by the Belikin distributorship here in San Pedro, all smiles, in his bubble golf cart.

Being a friend of Sir Barry’s I can say that my life would not have been the same without having met him, and that it has certainly not been the same since his passing.

Sir Barry and Lady Dixie’s children along with Lady Dixie herself, are all finding their way, in their businesses and areas of expertise throughout Belize, and I am convinced that they will do justice and reverence to their husband and father’s legacy. They all know they have big shoes to fill.

Tomorrow I will lift a glass of Johnnie Walker Black. Cheers Barry….know that you were loved by an entire country. Your presence is missed by all of us.

Kitty and Angelica

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