MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - According to multiple reports, CEO and President of Champion Awards and Apparel Mike Bowen was tragically killed in an accident Saturday in Costa Rica.
Bowen and his wife of over 35 years, Suzie, were on an extended vacation in a remote area of Costa Rica with one of their two sons when they got into a car accident last week.
Later on, Bowen passed away unexpectedly of health complications.
Bowen started Champion in 2000 and has produced millions of screen printed and embroidered products.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland released this statement in the wake of Bowen's death.
“As a successful business owner, he led our city in hiring employees with criminal records. Since I’ve been mayor, he helped and advised us on helping others get second chances. I will truly miss his can-do generous spirit," Strickland said.
We are still working to learn the cause of Bowen's accident.
Bowen leaves behind two sons and a wife.
“Mike and I were best of friends," said business partner Bill Kinkade.
Kinkade has been business partners with Mike in the Bowen family business for 30 years.
Bowen co-founded a custom apparel company with the family in the 70’s that merged with Champion to become Champion Awards and Apparel.
At Champion, Bowen was the CEO and gave jobs to convicted felons.
“One of his key principles was giving people a second chance,” Kinkade said.
Bowen was well-known for his many contributions in the Memphis community.
“I always remember him as the most charitable person, most giving person I’ve ever met,” Kinkade said.
Bowen loved his alma mater, the University of Memphis Tigers. His friends knew him by a different name.
“Memphis Mike! We went to every bowl game, to a lot of away games for basketball," Kinkade said. "He was an avid Tigers fan.”
Champion is still the main producer of Tiger gear and is responsible for decades of local and national sports apparel.
“He’ll be missed by many friends but he won’t be forgotten by anybody,” Kinkade said.