One of Alpine Helen’s “founding fathers” was honored during the city’s 50th birthday party on Friday, Sept. 20.
Helen City Commissioner Jeff Ash recognized Robert “Bob” Fowler and presented to his widow, Linda Fowler, a proclamation and photo display commemorating her late husband’s induction into the Helen Heritage Hall of Fame at Helen City Hall.
“There’s really no words that can explain my gratitude and my love for this area,” Fowler said about the honor. “Bob and I spent the majority of our married life here and raised our children here. He was an inspiration, as you know, and they spoke today about the renovation and what it meant to him. It’s just the most amazing day I’ve ever seen in my life and witnessed in my life. He’s in heaven, and I know he looks down and sees this, and it just brings joy to my heart and to my family. I’ll love these people forever.”
Bob Fowler was born and raised in Gainesville. He graduated from Gainesville High School in 1948 and the University of Georgia in 1952. He went on to serve in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955, which included a tour of duty in Korea.
In 1957, he joined J.D. Jewell and Company as the institutional sales manager, where he worked for the next 10 years. In 1968, he and Linda Fowler moved to Helen when he became the executive vice president of Orbit Industries. He eventually became the president and stayed there until his retirement in 1995. During his time in Helen, Fowler served as the mayor from 1974-1978. Ash served with Fowler on the city commission during this time.
“In 1972, I think Bob was elected to the city commission, and then later, when I was working at the bank in Cornelia, I came back home and he handed me a piece of paper and said sign it,” Ash recalled. “I said ‘sign what?’ and he said ‘you’re running for the city commission in 1973.’ I said I don’t want to do that Bob, I’m starting a new job. He said nope, you live here, you work here, I need you. Bob ran for mayor that year and I ended up getting elected with two other fine gentlemen, and that was the day that government entered my life – because of Bob Fowler.”
In 1986, Fowler was involved in helping to create the city manager form of government that Helen is under today, changing from the mayor and city commission form of government.
“Bob brought to Helen, Georgia, a form of stability in government,” Ash said. “Because I sat there and watched him the very first night. He showed us a book. He said you see this book, this is called Robert’s Rules of Order. I want everybody to take it home and read it, because this is the way I will conduct my meetings.
“That leadership that he provided us through the next couple of years was invaluable,” Ash said.
Fowler passed away on Jan. 14, 2019. Linda Fowler described him as “one of a kind, and the most wonderful person I’ve ever met.”