James A. Bowen

Posted: Thursday, April 29, 2010

Juneau resident James A. Bowen died peacefully in his sleep at his home on April 25, 2010. He was 58.

He was born in 1951 in Sequim, Wash., to Jack and Betty Bowen. He was an enrolled member of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe of Washington, where he went by the name of He-alth, which he was given at birth.

He was a graduate of Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California Berkeley, where he was an associate editor of the California Law Review. After graduation he served as an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.

He returned to the Pacific Northwest to work as the tribal judge in Washington State for the Puyallup Tribal Court and appellate court judge pro tem for numerous tribal courts. He was a co-founder and president of the Northwest Tribal Court Judges Association.

Upon his move to Sitka, he served as tribal attorney. He focused on the implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act and the development of tribal court systems. He was widely recognized as an expert on Federal Indian law. He served as an administrative law judge for the state of Alaska for 20 years.

For all the significant and serious legal work of his career, to friends and family he was fun-loving with a zany sense of humor. He was often referred to as "Jim, the Juggling Judge" as he could balance many balls in the air. He will be greatly missed by family, friends and colleagues throughout the world.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and brother, Joe Bowen.

He is survived by his wife, Rita Bowen, and her family; sisters, Sherry Macgregor and Janis King; nephews, Chumahan Bowen and Matthew King; and niece, Beth Bowen.

A celebration of life will be held in Juneau at 3 p.m. on May 8 at Chapel by the Lake, and in Sequim, Wash., at 3 p.m. on his birthday, May 30, at the Jamestown Tribe Community Center.

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