Barry Bowen

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Barry Mansfield Bowen KCMG (September 19, 1945 – February 26, 2010) was a Belizean bottling magnate, politician and entrepreneur. Bowen was the second wealthiest citizen of Belize as of 2010.[1] His business interests included Bowen and Bowen, Ltd., which was founded by his father, and is the exclusive bottler of Coca Cola products in Belize and the Belize Brewing Company, which brews Belikin beer.[2] Bowen also served as a former member of the Senate of Belize and the financier of the People's United Party.[2] In December 2007, Queen Elizabeth II knighted Bowen as a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.

Biography[edit]

Bowen, a 7th generation Belizean, was born to Eric William Mansfield Bowen and Emilie Josephine Bowen, in Belize City, British Honduras, on September 19, 1945.[3][4] Eric Bowen, originally from San Ignacio, Cayo District, founded a lemonade factory called Bowen and Bowen (and also known as the Crystal Bottling Co.)[2] in 1930s.[2] The company would eventually grow into Belize's largest bottler under his son, Barry.

Barry Bowen completed his bachelor's degree at Cornell University and returned to run Bowen and Bowen with his father.[3] They began distributing Coca-Cola products throughout what was then known as British Honduras.[3] Barry Bowen became the manager of his father's company in 1968.[3] In 1971, the family-owned Bowen and Bowen acquired the Belize Brewing Company, maker of Belikin, which was first brewed in the late 1960s.[2]

Businesses[edit]

Bowen purchased Bowen and Bowen, Ltd., from his father in 1978.[2] Bowen focused on developing his business into Belize's only maker and distributor of Coca-Cola products in the country.[2] He also sought to turn Belikin, brewed by the Belize Brewing Company, into the most popular beer in Belize.[2] Before Belikin, most Belizeans drank imported Guinness stout or Heineken.[2] Once Bowen began producing the locally brewed Belikin in larger quantities, the People's United Party (PUP) raised taxes on imported beers, which had the effect of switching most local drinkers to the less costly Belikin. [2] As of 2010, the Bowen family-owned brewing company controls virtually the entire beer market in Belize,[2] as imports of brands from Mexico and Guatemala are prohibited.[2] Belikin is now the country's only domestically produced beer, following the failure of its competitor, Charger beer.[2] The company currently brews several brands of beer - Belikin, Lighthouse lager, Belikin Supreme lager, and Belikin stout, as well as Guinness stout under a licensing agreement.[2]

Bowen had a large number of other business interests, in addition to his Coca-Cola and Belikin operations. He owned the Gallon Jug Estate, a 130,000-acre (530 km2) private nature reserve in Orange Walk District.[1] Within Bowen's Gallon Jug Estate is the Chan Chich Lodge, a world famous Belizean rainforest hotel, and Gallon Jug Agro-Industries, a 3,000-acre (12 km2) organic experimental farm which Bowen established to produce cacao and cattle.[2] The farm is also the only commercial coffee grower in Belize.[2] He also owned Belize Aquaculture Ltd., a shrimp farm located near the village of Placencia, Stann Creek District, and a Ford dealership in Belize City.[2] He also served as the director of Belize Airways, established in 1976, which was the country's first national airline.[2]

Bowen was killed around 5:30 p.m. on February 26, 2010, when the Cessna 206 he was piloting crashed on approach to the airstrip at San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye.[2] Bowen was 64 years old. The crash also killed Michael Casey and Jill Casey, teachers at Gallon Jug Community School on Bowen's Gallon Jug Estate, and their children, Makayla and Bryce, who were from Albany, New York.[1][2] Bowen was survived by his wife, Lady Dixie Summerscales, six children, and several grandchildren.

Sir Barry Bowen was granted a state funeral on March 2, 2010, which was attended by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and his wife, leader of the opposition, Johnny Briceño, former Prime Minister Said Musa and other dignitaries. The funeral was held at St. John's Cathedral, Belize City.[4] Bowen was buried with his parents in San Ignacio Town, Cayo District.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Ballou, Brian (2010-03-02). "Couple, children are killed in Belize". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-03-20. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Sir Barry Bowen killed in Plane Crash in San Pedro". BelizeFirst.com. 2010-02-26. Retrieved 2010-03-19. 
  3. ^ a b c d "The Life of Sir Barry Bowen". San Pedro Sun. 2010-03-04. Retrieved 2010-03-20. 
  4. ^ a b c "The Funeral of Sir Barry Bowen". Tropical Vision Limited (Channel 7). 2010-03-02. Retrieved 2010-03-20.