Bernard F. Bowling, Jr. took office as Mayor on January 1, 2007 and served the City of St. Matthews in this capacity through December 31, 2014. Like his father before him, Mayor Bernard F. Bowling, Sr. (1958 – 1984), Bernard F. Bowling, Jr. made a lasting legacy on the St. Matthews community.
A lifelong resident of St. Matthews, Bowling attended Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church and was an elementary school student on their campus. A graduate of St. Xavier High School with studies at the University of Louisville, Bowling spent his life working in the family business, Plehn’s Bakery, one of the earliest founding small businesses in the area. Prior to being voted Mayor by city residents, Bowling served the city in the position of city councilman for 22 years.
During his mayoral term Bernard Bowling completed the city’s long range comprehensive drainage plan from the 1980’s which was created to protect residents from the devastating results of flooded land and homes. He initiated sidewalk projects in neighborhoods and busy thoroughfares, such as Shelbyville Road, so that everyone in the community had a safe place to walk.
Determined to make St. Matthews a beautiful place to be, Bowling took on a green up and clean up stance. His commitment to the city’s park system was unmatched by those who served before him. Through his leadership, Bowling expanded the city’s park system by dedicating the corner of Westport Road and Chenoweth Lane, Holtzheimer Park, creating a pleasant place to pause and reflect on days gone by; advanced broad upgrades to Warwick and Community Parks in support of the baseball league and diverse recreational amenities while realizing the significance of protecting nature. Bernard Bowling’s forward thinking caused him to advance and advocate the importance of projects to remove non-native plants from city parks and the vital restoration of Beargrass Creek, preserving the beauty of nature for many future generations to enjoy.
As mayor, Bowling expanded the city’s population by welcoming the Springwood Lane residents who petitioned to join St. Matthews. He supported the extremely successful Prescription Drug Disposal program, the first depository in east Jefferson County. Mayor Bowling protected neighborhoods by reinforcing and expanding the railroad quiet zone and insuring that commercial development was supported, while not intruding on residential areas.
Committed to making St. Matthews city services the best in the county, Mayor Bowling advanced the city’s police department and public works with skilled personnel and up to date equipment. Bowling’s strategy proved fruitful as the police department, officers, and works personnel received numerous honors and recognitions locally, statewide and nationally.
Bernard Bowling was acknowledged by his peers in 2013 with the Payton Hogue Award, presented by the Jefferson County League of Cities to an individual who has given extraordinary service, dedication and time to a Jefferson County suburban city, the Jefferson County League of Cities and the greater Louisville community.
As Mayor, Bernard F Bowling, Jr. accomplished much. He was a role model for others, a friend to many, a servant to the community and a leader of the people. The City of St. Matthews is a better place because he sacrificed his time and abilities to make it so.