Bill Bowell obituary

Bill Bowell died on 19 January 2021 aged 87. He had lived for 60 years in Bridge Street with his wife Edna, who died in December 2019. Bill worked as a chef when younger, and is remembered in Osney for his friendliness, for delivering the Oxford Mail and Times door-to-door, and for famously swimming with dolphins off the coast of Ireland to help with his depression.

His funeral is at St Frideswide’s Church on 5 February (family only due to COVID restrictions).


Marc Thompson writes: Bill was our newspaper delivery ‘boy’ when we first moved to the island 20 years ago. We discovered that he visited Dingle in Kerry most years to swim with Fungi the dolphin. Bill suffered from depression and the dolphin swimming he found helped with this. It is probably no coincidence that Fungi has disappeared from Dingle in the last couple of weeks just as Bill has departed this life.  He was a lovely man, gentle and kind.

Miranda Jones writes: Dear Bill Bowell delivered newspapers to Osney islanders and was always willing to  have a chat if one’s paths crossed. He would keep an eye open for people who left their keys in the door or even left their door open. A very kind and good person. Farewell Bill.

Elizabeth Newbery writes: Bill was the very first person I met on the Island when I arrived here. Bill became a good source of information for the newsletter which I used to put together before Jane.

Chris Gray writes: Bill was one of the brightest stars of Oxford Mail distribution. One colourful detail I recall is that each weekday night he would be on Osney Bridge with a paper ready to hand to the Bentley-driving chauffeur of Sir Basil Blackwell en route from Blackwell’s bookshop to his home at Appleton.

Councillor Susanna Pressel writes: I have known Bill and his family for about 25 years. He was a special and much loved man – always warm, friendly and hospitable, with a delightful twinkle in his eye and a really lovely voice. Until recently he was very active locally. …When I first got to know him, his children lived nearby; his daughter, for instance worked at West Oxford School for a long time. They have always been a close family. I’m sure he will be fondly remembered for a long time. Osney Island will be poorer without him.

Julia Marsh writes: Bill Bowell was a larger than life character when we moved to South Street in 1990, always taking an interest in our daughters, telling me I’d need to get a move on in order to catch up with the number of children he and Edna had (5)!

There are newspaper stories about Bill and the dolphins here, and about Bill and Edna’s experience in the 2007 floods here.

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