The National Achievement Award is the highest honor presented by the National Rivers Hall of Fame to those people who are making significant contributions to America’s waterways. The National Rivers Hall of Fame with members in 36 states is the only national museum telling the stories of the people of America’s rivers.
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Captain William D. Bowell founded the Padelford Packet Boat Co., Inc., in 1969 and expanded the business to include four vessels offering daily sightseeing excursions, dinner cruises, school field trips, and private charters. He was instrumental in starting the National Passenger Vessel Owners Association (now Passenger Vessel Association). From only seven member companies in 1970, PVA has grown to more than 500 companies.
A paratrooper in World War II, Captain Bowell served with the 82nd Airborne Division and was awarded four battle stars and arrowhead, the presidential citation with oak leaf cluster, French and Belgian Croix de Guerres, a bronze star, and a purple heart. On D-Day he jumped behind enemy lines and was involved in extensive hand-to-hand combat.
After graduation from Macalester College in 1949, he acquired his riverboat license. Following a brief foray into the excursion boat business, Captain Bowell became a curator with the Minnesota State Historical Society, then was liaison engineer for Studebaker Corp. (South Bend, IN). Next he served as account executive with Edwards & Deutsch, a major publishing firm in Chicago where he was co-founder of the United Airline Mainliner, Oldsmobile Rocket Circle and Holiday Inns of America magazines. In 1962 he became a partner in United Scientific, Inc., a St. Paul firm specializing in high precision machine parts, plastic injection and compression moulding. He also owned a farm for experimental production of chicken broilers.
Captain Bowell was among the select group of founders of the National Rivers Hall of Fame and he has advised the organization since its founding, even arranging for the gift of the towboat Logsdon to the Hall of Fame. In 2002, Captain Bowell was instrumental in building a new showboat for the enjoyment of the residents and visitors to the Twin Cities.
Honored in 1995.