His meticulously executed fanzines were nominated for the Hugo many times: the 1965 Best Fanzine Hugo for (Double:Bill), and for Outworlds, the 1971 Best Fanzine Hugo, the 1974 Best Fanzine Hugo, the 1975 Best Fanzine Hugo, the 1976 Best Fanzine Hugo, and the 1977 Best Fanzine Hugo. Outworlds won the FAAN Award for Best Fanzine three times (1975, 1976 and 1999).
He also published the sometimes perzine, sometimes genzine, sometimes apazine Xenolith for some 50 issues beginning in 1977, and the apazine Neither Rain, Noir Murder..., among others. He participated in numerous apae, among them FAPA, MISHAP, FLAP and DAPA-Em. Other fanzines included Abanico.
Bowers won TAFF in 1976 in a tie with Roy Tackett, but there was only money for one to travel and Bill withdrew. TAFF administrators offered Bill the opportunity to finally take his TAFF trip in 2001, on the Silver Anniversary of his original TAFF win, but he was unable to make the trip.
Tall and lanky, Bowers had light reddish hair and a sparse beard. He and his short, dark, hirsute friend Mike Glicksohn made such a contrast in appearance that it became a running joke between them.
Though a quiet introvert, Bowers made friends with fans of all ages, who jokingly nicknamed him Father William, after the Lewis Carroll poem.
Along with fanzines, Bowers had a Kolektinbug passion for books and videos, and was an avid con-goer in the 1970s and '80s. Meanwhile, he kvetched so much about not having time or money to pub his ish that his friend Leah Zeldes gave him a kitten, which she named Responsibilty, so he'd have to stay home more. That didn't work, but he came to love the little black cat so much that when she died, he kept her ashes to be buried with him.
Originally from a small town near Cleveland, Bowers became a draughtsman after high school. He served a stint in the Air Force and then went back to his old job until 1977, when he chucked 15 years' senority and moved to Cincinnati to be near Paula Gold, although she was not interested in a serious relationship with him. He had trouble keeping steadily employed in Cincinnati, though he spent some years, on and off, working for Hasbro, the toy makers. However, he became active in the CFG, and continued to publish and go to cons.
He was married twice, to Joan Bowers in the late 1960s — she co-edited early Outworlds and early '70s, and in the late '80s, briefly but disastrously to a mundane who fafiated him, cut him off from all his friends, then made a false report to the police about him, and left him broke.
Bowers suffered many health problems. For many years, he took steroids for a skin condition, and these led to osteoporosis. The pronounced slump from bone loss affected his lung capacity; he was also a chain smoker. The combination developed into emphysema, which ultimately killed him, though up to the end he was unhooking his oxygen in order to have a cigarette.
Some issues of Bowers' zines are available on eFanzines.com.
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