Bill Dowey


Bill Dowey, who was a founding member of the Malibu Optimists Club, and who wrote a book about Malibu’s history, died on July 22 from cancer. He was 84.

Samuel William Dowey was born in Philadelphia on March 19, 1919 to a Presbyterian minister and his wife. He received his bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College in 1941 and his master’s degree in political science from Princeton University in 1943.

Dowey’s professional career started in 1952 when he became dean of students at Keystone College in Pennsylvania. Several years later, with his wife, Elizabeth, and sons Bourke and Christopher, he moved to California to join his uncle, George Dowey, in a business that specialized in fundraising for churches. Over the years, Dowey expanded his client base to include schools and hospitals. He was director of development for the Doheny Eye Center and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and planned giving director for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

In 1958 his youngest son, Kent, was born on the same day that ground was broken for their Malibu home on Filaree Heights. Over the years, Dowey became increasingly involved in community organizations and events in Malibu. He helped raise funds for the swimming pool at Malibu High School and for the Malibu Lagoon Museum.

A talented writer, Dowey contributed numerous poems to The Malibu Times. His writings were both humorous and moving, and often written to celebrate a special occasion. He also authored a brief history of Malibu, titled “The Adamson House.”

After his second wife of 20 years, Colleen, died of cancer, Dowey met Nancy Call. Married in 1985, the couple was together for nearly 20 years.

His family said Dowey was known for his sense of fun, love for other people and his faithfulness to God and humanity. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, sons, Christopher, Bourke and Kent, daughters-in-law Judith and Ana, and grandchildren Erik and Andrew. Dowey was predeceased by his brother, Edward, professor of Church History at Princeton, only months ago.

A memorial service took place July 25 at 11 a.m. Donations in Bill Dowey’s name may be sent to the Cancer Foundation or the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.