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Chester B. Bowles

1924 team captain, governor, and diplomat

Chester BowlesChester Bowles (Class of 1924) was born in Springfield, Massachusetts and attended Choate before going to Yale. In 1924, as a senior, he was captain of the golf team that won the intercollegiate championship, although he was not one of the four players whose scores counted toward the win. In the opening match of that season, he had been paired with his teammate, Dexter Cummings, the 1923 individual intercollegiate champion, and they lost to a team from the Westchester Biltmore Country Club in Rye, New York. In 1923 Bowles had lost his match in the Apawamis Invitational. He did not play in the intercollegiate team competition at the end of the season, but he did compete in the individual championship, losing in the second round. Why was he elected team captain? It may well be that the qualities that made Bowles successful in advertising, politics, and diplomacy were evident even then to his constituents.

Bowles wrote later that “as a college senior, in 1924, I determined to spend my life in government,” observing that he was one of a few in class for whom a public career held any interest. First he went to New York and got a job as a $25 per week copywriter in an advertising agency. During the Great Depression of 1929 he started his own advertising firm with another Yale graduate, William Benton. It was highly successful, but Bowles was not satisfied by monetary rewards alone. The events of December 7, 1941 provided him the opportunity he had been seeking.

Because of an ear problem Bowles was rejected when he tried to enlist in the Navy. He accepted a position as director of the Office of Price Administration in Connecticut. In 1943, President Roosevelt appointed him general manager of the Federal Price Administration. He was the Director of Economic Stability, when he ran unsuccessfully for governor of Connecticut in 1946. He became governor in 1948. He was named US Ambassador to India in 1951 and again in 1961. Between those posts he served in the House of Representatives from Connecticut’s second district. Bowles wrote seven books setting forth his philosophy of domestic and foreign policy.

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