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Daniel Bowling – October 5, 1943 – May 26, 2024

Note: As desired, you can utilize the “Memorial” and “Tributes” tabs at this memorial website for Daniel: https://tinyurl.com/bowling-obituar

By David Hoffman and Homer LaRue

G. Daniel Bowling was an inspiring teacher, mediator, lawyer, social activist, writer, and devoted family member and friend. He died peacefully in his sleep in Charleston, SC on May 26, 2024.

Daniel grew up in South Carolina, Florida, and elsewhere in the South, where his father was a Baptist minister and his mother was a church teacher. At Furman University, he graduated with honors and won a scholarship to attend Harvard Law School, where he graduated in 1968.

After two years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he began a pioneering career as a public-interest lawyer in Washington, DC in 1970. He was one of the founding faculty members of Antioch Law School (the first law school to emphasize clinical education) and staff attorney at the Urban Law Institute (the first public interest law firm in the U.S.). In 1974, when he moved back to South Carolina, he became the first Public Defender in Charleston, and in 1984, founded Charleston’s first mediation center. His down-to-earth style, and his ability to work with all types of people, earned him regular victories in the courtroom (and a listing in the National Directory of Criminal Lawyers as one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the United States).

In the mid-1970s, Daniel began studying, practicing, and teaching yoga and meditation — pioneering in that area too, as Charleston’s first yoga teacher! He was also the co-founder (with his then-wife Robin Solomon) of Chrysalis, a non-profit spiritual educational center in Charleston, and he served as its board chair. In the 1980s, he began working with the Kripalu Yoga Fellowship in Lenox, Massachusetts. There, with Robin Solomon, he created a yoga philosophy and meditation course called “Life is Transformation,” and he also served as KYF’s general counsel. When KYF nearly fell apart in 1995 over allegations of misconduct by the center’s guru, Daniel’s legal and conflict management skills enabled KYF to emerge from its crisis stronger than ever (and with no guru).

In the late 1990s, Daniel’s commitment to dispute resolution led him to a series of leadership roles. He was the Executive Director of the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution (SPIDR) and, in that capacity, led the negotiations that resulted in the merger of the four major dispute resolution membership organizations in the U.S. into a new organization, the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR). Daniel became the first CEO of ACR, and then director of the Washington office of Resolve, Inc. (a non-profit environmental mediation firm), and then executive director of the Private Adjudication Center at Duke University.

Daniel’s skill as a mediator earned him a coveted position in 2006 as staff attorney, mediator, and trainer at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, where he served until 2015. Daniel lived on a gorgeous houseboat in Sausalito with his then-wife Dana Curtis, commuting by ferry. (A brief video of Daniel discussing his work as a mediator can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BfnEhTH4n8.) “Dani [the name that he adopted in recent years] was a brilliant and compassionate teacher, trainer, and mentor, deeply touching the lives of hundreds of Bay Area mediators, judges, and lawyers during his ten years of service with the ADR Program of the federal court,” said his dear friend and colleague there, Howard Herman. “Dani taught us to become more self-reflective, more self-aware, more connected to our humanity, more present — helping us not only to become better mediators, but also better people.”

Another of Daniel’s major commitments was his involvement in Spirit Rock Meditation Center, a Buddhist retreat center in California. He was a graduate of the center’s Community Dharma Leaders training program, and also served on the Spirit Rock board, including service as the board chair and an active member of the center’s Diversity Council. (You can listen to Daniel co-leading a Spirit Rock workshop with Dana Curtis here: https://sr.dharmaseed.org/teacher/494). Daniel also presented Dharma talks for the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City. (You can hear 27 of Daniel’s Dharma Talks for IMC here: https://www.audiodharma.org/speakers/22.)

A gifted writer, Daniel published influential articles and book chapters on mindfulness and mediation. In 2003, Jossey-Bass published his book “Bringing Peace into the Room: How the Personal Qualities of the Mediator Impact the Process of Conflict Resolution” (co-edited with David Hoffman). Daniel also served as chair of the Publications Board of the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution, where he guided many authors’ books to press.

In 2019, Daniel retired to South Carolina, but still maintained his involvement with meditation, yoga, and teaching Buddhism — and continuing to go on silent-meditation retreats. When the COVID pandemic began, he led meditation sessions via Zoom.

Homer La Rue recalls that Dani, as a member of a small, racially and spiritually diverse men’s support group (known as the “Five Guys”), “taught us much about the strength and value of sharing our unique vulnerabilities. Over the years of sharing, crying, and giving one another ‘the business,’ we learned how differences can be doors to inclusiveness rather than division.”

Daniel’s interests and talents were broad. He loved jazz, poetry, sports, vegetarian cuisine, travel, humor, hiking, and was widely known as a snappy dresser. “There was nothing he loved more than telling jokes with family and friends, and especially with his granddaughter Bela,” said his daughter Jessica Lucena. He also had a passion for politics, and regularly shared with his wide circle of friends and colleagues links to articles advocating for racial justice, gender equality, indigenous rights, and the rights of the LGBTQ community. (Rachel Maddow and Heather Cox Richardson were among his favorite commentators.)

Daniel was preceded in death by his parents (Rev. G.W. Bowling and Thelma Curtis Bowling), his sister Jean Bowling Inabinet, and his nephew Daniel Inabinet. He is survived by his brother-in-law, Wilson Inabinet, his niece Dana Caldwell, his daughter Jessica (and her spouse Eduardo Lucena and their adorable daughter Isabela), his stepson Eric Schaub, and several grand-nephews, grand-nieces, and two great-grand-nieces, as well as stepchildren and step-grandchildren from his previous marriages.

A memorial service will be held at the Unitarian Church in Charleston, SC on October 6, 2024 (time TBD). Contributions in Daniel’s memory (in lieu of flowers) are welcome for the Unitarian Church in Charleston (www.charlestonuu.org) and the Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution (www.natlctr4adr.org). Contributions of stories about Daniel are also invited – you can use the “Memorial” or “Tributes” tabs at the top of this page. Please note that in the “Memorial” section, you can post both text and photographs. Anyone can sign the “Tributes” Guest Book – no password is needed. But if you want to add to the Memorial section, please send an email to [email protected]. If you are planning to attend the memorial service, please send an email to [email protected].) Thank you!!

                        author

David Hoffman

David A. Hoffman is a mediator, arbitrator, and Collaborative Law attorney at Boston Law Collaborative, LLC. He is past chair of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution. He is the John H. Watson, Jr. Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches courses on Mediation, Collaborative Law, and… MORE >

                        author

Homer LaRue

Professor Homer LaRue teaches lawyering skills, civil procedure, professional responsibility, and dispute resolution. Professor LaRue is one of the founding faculty at the City University of New York School of Law and has experience with the development of a nationally recognized first year clinical experience at the University of Maryland.… MORE >

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