As an educator, Gwen Bowles was described and firm and formidable.

But as a sister, music teacher and community member she was kind, caring and enjoyed life.

Gwen Bowles passed away last week aged 92.

Born and raised in Bendigo, she will be remembered by many former Bendigo High School students as the music teacher who wrote the school song – the Bendigo High School Anthem.

Her sister Lily Bridger said Miss Bowles had a blessed life and was an inspiration.

“Miss Bowles was a very kind-hearted person who really cared for the whole family,” Ms Bridger said. “She went to college and did well. Everywhere she went she fitted into. She was that happy and fun loving.

“I wrote to her every week, right up until last week. She always enjoyed life and music.”

Miss Bowles was a Bendigo High School student from 1939 to 1941.

After studying a bachelor of music and a diploma of education she taught at Bendigo High from 1949 to 1957. Miss Bowles taught recorder classes, trained successful choirs and helped establish a strong music program at Bendigo High.

“She played her school roles very well but was different at home,” Ms Bridger said. “Miss Bowles had the ability to be firm but on other side, she enjoyed life.”

Bendigo Senior Secondary School communications manager John Holton said Miss Bowles’ legacy at the college would remain.

“Miss Bowles was an integral part of the Bendigo High School community throughout the 1950s, which is evident when you look through the editions of Old Gold magazine from that era,” he said. “She clearly had a great influence on a generation of young musicians in Bendigo during that time.

“The college song is still played and sung at major events throughout the BSSC calendar.”

After Bendigo, Miss Bowles moved to Melbourne to continue teaching. In her career she served as principal of Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School from 1972 to 1984.

Current Mac.Rob principal Toni Meath said Miss Bowles was innovative during her tenure and was so formidable she could silence a hall by standing up.

Miss Bowles rejuvenated the alumni’s Palladiums Association, was responsible for the plain clothes policy for year 12 students to help ease them into university and appointed the first male assistant principal in the school’s history.

“The girls really respected her for her fairness,” Dr Meath said. “The plain clothes policy was very unique at the time. It was introduced in 1974 and still stands today.

“Mac.Rob’s first male assistant principal appointment was something that was very forward in gender for a girls school in the 1970s.”

By Chris Pedler – Bendigo Advertiser

Published 4-12-17