In Tribute: Bill Stowe

Above: Bill Stowe in 2016, when he told dsm that “those of us who are able to live beyond the idea that life consists of work-eat-sleep-repeat can’t abuse the gift we’ve been given by disregarding our responsibility to contribute to the greater good.” (Photo by Duane Tinkey.)


Like so many in our community, we were deeply saddened to hear about the death of Bill Stowe, CEO and general manager of Water Works. In interviews, Stowe was always eloquent, honest and unfailingly polite. We were inspired by his sharp intellect and strong social conscience as he worked to keep the public safe, both in his roles at Water Works and earlier as director of Des Moines’ public works department. The target of unfair political attacks, Stowe told dsm (in this story) that he drew on his deep Jesuit-based faith to deal with those attacks, push for accountability, and stay focused on serving the public good.

“I believe that the Catholic mystics teach us how to develop a strength of self and to understand that our mission is greater than our personal comfort, greater than our friendships, greater than the adversity. Transformation is painful and liberating,” he told us. “At the end of the day you ask: Are you doing the right thing? Is what you’re doing part of a larger cause? Are you fulfilling the obligation you have to others?” Fine questions we could all ask ourselves. Christine Riccelli

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