In 1996, he donned a toga to join former UC Berkeley Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien at a UC Berkeley archaeological site in Ancient Nemea, Greece, for a barefoot race with hundreds of people from around the world. The event recreated footraces once held there during the ancient Panhellenic Games.
Bowker adopted Nemea as one of his test-case, fundraising efforts, said Stephen Miller, the UC Berkeley emeritus professor of classics who led UC Berkeley's research at the Greek site for decades. Bowker's vision helped develop Nemea-related scholarly and popular publications, studies and dissertations by UC Berkeley students and faculty, and an archaeological park visited by 32,000 people in 2007 that features a museum, a temple of Zeus that is under reconstruction, and an ancient athletics stadium.
"Indeed, in 1996 that 'walking, talking unmade king-size bed,' as the undergraduates used to call him (Bowker), ran barefoot down the ancient stadium track at the first revival of the Nemean Games," said Miller. "It should surprise no one that the excavation house at Nemea bears, on its door, the little sign 'Bowker House.'"