Robert Bowerman could only be described as a fighter.
Whether in rugby union as a child, sailing and jogging later in life and the many hairdressing titles he championed throughout his life, Robert knew how to compete. It was this tenacity, and the love of his adoring family, which saw him through three types of cancer before he finally succumbed to bone marrow cancer last week at the age of 77. It is also this passion and drive that will ensure he is long remembered.
Robert’s hairdressing dreams started young, when he began as an apprentice for his mother Gwen, who owned her own salon. First opening his own salon in the city of Sydney, he would go on to open salons in Cronulla, Sylvania, Gymea, Jannali, Caringbah, Northbridge and Chatswood, building something of an empire as he went. His teaching style was well-known, a fierce take on leadership that pushed his apprentices to achieve their best and produced champion winning hairdressers.
Robert was a champion in his own right, winning many state titles before finally taking the Australian title in 1972. In 1974 he captained the Australian team to the world championships held in Vienna, and this platform led him to tour all corners of Australia for ten years. His substantial contribution to the industry saw him inducted into the Australian Hairdressing Hall of Fame.
Next to hairdressing, family was truly the centre of Robert’s world. His 56 year marriage with wife Jenifer, whom he met at the age of 15 and then married at the age of 21, was a romance to aspire to. Together they had three children, Ross, Kathy and Peter, the latter of whom tragically died in a plane crash at the age of 23. Five grandchildren became the light of their lives, alongside their enduring relationship.
He was also well-known in acting circles, gaining great success later in life predominantly with the famed Shrimp On The Barbie TV campaign, filmed with Paul Hogan. Other work include the 1960s TV Show Riptide and playing Sir James Hardy in The Challenge mini-series.
Robert was well-known for his charitable nature, a notable example being the Hair to Help charity he set up in 1989 after an earthquake in Newcastle. This kindness and his intense zest for life will see him mourned by his adoring family and the industry at large, and never forgotten.
Rest in peace.
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