by Max Brantley
He was an entrepreneur and former entertainer whose business activities ranged over the years from dinner theater management to cutting edge web technology. He's also known as the founder of The Group, a communal living arrangement that began with a group of musicians in the 1960s. They established a home on Big Piney Creek in the early 1970s and eventually moved to Little Rock, bought adjacent homes in the Quapaw Quarter and undertook a number of business ventures.
The Memphis Commercial-Appeal wrote on extensive feature on The Group in 1971, reprinted here.
Bowles also has an important long-ago connection to the Arkansas Times. In its early struggling years more than 30 years ago, Bowles made a timely loan that helped keep the publication afloat, publisher Alan Leveritt recalled.
The full statement from the family follows:
W. DIXON BOWLES, VISIONARY AND ENTREPRENEUR, DIES AT AGE SIXTY-SIX IN LITTLE ROCK
Little Rock , December 21, 2010 - W. Dixon Bowles, Co-founder and Chairman of the Board of
Aristotle Inc., Little Rock based Internet Access Provider and Interactive Agency, passed away of
natural causes at his home in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Sunday, December 19, 2010, his family
A visionary and entrepreneur, Mr. Bowles was instrumental in the foundation and growth of a
number of successful enterprises, including Solomon Alfred’s in Memphis, Tennessee, in the mid-
1970’s, one of the first entertainment venues to combine live entertainment, fine dining and a video
arcade in one facility.
In 1982, Mr. Bowles co-founded VideoSoft, Inc., a company that developed computer programming
video training courses that were purchased by Boeing, NASA and other major corporations.
VideoSoft’s VS Software division, an International Typeface Corporation affiliate, created three
multi-million dollar software products: FontGen, one of the first font generation programs for laser
printers, the VS Font Library, and SLEd, a signature and logo editor which is still sold today.
In 1995, Mr. Bowles co-founded Aristotle which is now celebrating its 15th year in the Internet
industry. “Much of Aristotle’s success is due to the entrepreneurial spirit, democratic management
style and conservative, measured growth strategies set in place by Dixon,” stated Marla Johnson
Norris, CEO of Aristotle. “Although he will be deeply missed, his visionary strategies have laid a
strong foundation on which the company can and will continue to build in the coming decades.”
Mr. Bowles was born and grew up in West Texas. He began his professional career as a musician
and formed the W.D. Singers, a 60-voice folk choral group, in 1965. The singing group was pared
down to 18 “loose coat hangers from Texas” who moved to Los Angeles to become the Dan Blocker
Singers. The first folk music choir, the Dan Blocker Singers appeared on the Milton Berle Show
and in other venues in California and Nevada. The singing group was the inspiration for the Christy
Minstrels and other folk music ensembles. Mr. Bowles’ pioneering folk singing group came to
be known in Hollywood simply as “The Group.” In 1969, Mr. Bowles and several members of the
original Dan Blocker Singers relocated to Arkansas, where they campaigned for Governor Winthrop
Rockefeller and managed dinner theaters on Mount Magazine, Greers Ferry, and Little Rock.
Mr. Bowles is survived by his wife, Constance J. Crisp; daughter, L. Elizabeth Bowles; son-in-law,
Rafael Bravo; and granddaughter Victoria Grace Bravo Bowles - all of Little Rock; mother, Louise
Welborne Bowles, brother, Clayton and sister-in-law Sharon of Malvern; and brother Kenneth and
sister-in-law, Devera of Minot, North Dakota, as well as a host of other family and friends.
The Bowles family has established a fund in Mr. Bowles’ name to continue his community and
charitable work. Donations may be mailed to the W.D. Bowles Fund at P.O. Box 165920, Little Rock,