William & Mary

Bowman Gets the Duke

Keeper of the Keys a Key Player at the College

  • Keeper of the Keys
    Keeper of the Keys  For nearly 25 years, Bernard Bowman has served the College with exemplary work in the Sir Christopher Wren Building.  
Photo - of -

William & Mary students and faculty know him, brides know him and general visitors to the College know him. He's Bernard Bowman, keeper of the keys to the historic Sir Christopher Wren building.

And in May 2009, he will also be the 13th recipient of the Charles and Virginia Duke Award at the College. The Charles and Virginia Duke Award is presented annually in recognition of outstanding employees for exemplary individual accomplishments in their professional lives and service to the William and Mary community.

Bowman's actual title is special events supervisor for the Wren, a building that sees tens of thousands of visitors a year. His job entails serving as information guide, mentor of student volunteers, College/Wren historian and wedding facilitator. By his count, he has done well over 1,000 weddings since he joined the College in 1985.

Thanks to his caring and close attention to detail, things run smoothly. Every so often, however, a wedding participant mighty pass out from nerves, but such incidents are rare. He does about three or four weddings every Saturday and enjoys every one of them.

A lifelong resident of Williamsburg, Bowman came to the Wren  as part-time custodian while working full time for Colonial Williamsburg. He retired from the latter in 1991 after a quarter century of service.

Louise Kale, executive director of the historic campus, considers Bowman indispensable as he prepares the Chapel and assists guests during weddings. "Bernard's greatest talent is keeping rehearsals and weddings on schedule, which is especially important on days where there are several ceremonies," she says on the Wren Building Web site.

In 1997, Charles Bryan Duke and Ann Evans Duke '57 endowed the award in memory of Mr. Duke's parents, Charles Joseph Duke Jr. '23 and Virginia Welton Duke, both of whom spent years bringing distinguished and loving service to the College. Bernard Bowman continues in that tradition.

The recipient of the award is selected by a committee appointed by the president of the College and is acknowledged during Commencement ceremonies each May.

Previous Duke Award Recipients