"He always claimed that boredom was the right mode of ideation, and I always believed that was his excuse for not working very much. He fooled me on...

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“He always claimed that boredom was the right mode of ideation, and I always believed that was his excuse for not working very much. He fooled me on that one. He had a bed in his office and would sleep often. … He always peppers his conversations with some pretty lofty stuff. He was into quantum physics quite a bit and liked to talk about quantum physics at the strangest times. … I think very few people are as creative and likable as him.’

Terry Heckler, owner of the Seattle advertising agency Heckler Associates, which was originally Heckler Bowker

“When we were in Rome last fall I asked him to show me his Rome, and his response was that Rome’s largely “a state of mind.” That’s a quote. … At the root of Gordon, he’s more interested in what isn’t obvious. He’s not likely to choose his books off the best-seller list.”

Jerry Baldwin, Bowker’s best friend, a co-founder of Starbucks and a director of Peet’s Coffee & Tea

“Gordon is an outwardly quiet man and has one of the wackiest senses of humor I’ve ever encountered. The first time we really spent time with him and Celia socially, we were at a mutual friend’s vacation home on Hood Canal for Thanksgiving, and Gordon burst into a rather melodramatic and heartfelt rendition of “Some Enchanted Evening” over the roast goose.”

Judy Tsutakawa, friend and Starbucks’ first barista

“He is very cerebral, yet he is very low-key and has this almost Buddhist monk kind of presence. … There are some major Wall Street financial types who consider Gordon a visionary. Gordon becomes friends with some of them. He’s able to deal with some extraordinary people who you would think wouldn’t have anything in common (with him).”

William “Wilber” James, co-founder of the Boston venture-capital fund RockPort Capital Partners, and co-owner with Bowker and Mark Salo of Apanage, a real-estate company in Poulsbo

“My idea was a champagne winery. He took me to dinner and said this business plan for a champagne winery is fabulous, but the only thing I’d change is instead of a champagne winery, I’d do a brewery. … I instantly galvanized on the brilliance of it.”

— Paul Shipman, co-founder and chief executive of Redhook Ale Brewery

“He tends to have a view that businesses in the passage of time become less good, more compromised, less pure, so he’s a little grumpy on the subject of starting new businesses.”

— David Brewster, founder of Seattle Weekly and founding publisher of Crosscut.com