A memorial was held for Bill Stowe, the founder of Coast Guard Academy crew, at the Vesper Boat Club on Friday night prior to the Head of the Schuylkill. Stowe, the head coach of the men's rowing team at the Coast Guard Academy from 1971-1987 and member of the CGA Athletic Hall of Fame, passed away in February at the age of 75.
Stowe's gold medal which he won in Tokyo in 1964 was presented to the club by his widow, Barb Stowe. He and his wife were in attendance at Coast Guard last October as the program christened the eight-seat racing shell, the "William Stowe."
The Academy was well represented at the memorial as members of both the men's and women's rowing team were in attendance to honor Stowe.
He propelled CGA crew from a start-up in to 1971 to Dad Vail champions in 1972 - an accomplishment that was then repeated six more times in the next nine years.
"Witty, generous, energetic, positive, colorful, and inspiring describe our beloved coach, champion, and friend, Bill Stowe," said Bob Stromsted ('75), who was the captain of the 1975 team for Stowe at the Academy. "He trained us hard, we learned to concentrate, we acted as one in the boat, we embraced, "no pain, no gain" and his expectations were the highest."
A veteran of the U.S. Navy who served in Vietnam, Stowe graduated from of the Kent School and Cornell University. He stroked Cornell to an IRA Championship (national championship) in 1962 and thereafter joined the Vesper Boat Club, which won the Olympic Trials at Orchard Beach Lagoon, N.Y., beating collegiate teams such as Harvard and Cal for the right to represent the U.S. in Tokyo.
It was the final time a club team would win the gold medal, prior to changes in the selection process, according to a 50th anniversary story about the 1964 team on usrowing.org. The team was feted on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Stowe coached at Columbia and later introduced the sport at Coast Guard, where he coached from 1971-85. He was a television commentator for ABC during the 1968 and 1972 Olympics and Stowe authored a book in 2005 titled "All Together: The Formidable Journey to the Gold with the 1964 Olympic Crew."
He is a member of the National Rowing Hall of Fame.
"He made a program that did not exist into one of the top collegiate rowing programs in the country," said Stromsted. "He took CGA crews to the Dad Vail's for 15 years and those crews returned with medals and the overall team overall team point trophy."