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family affair

A family affair

Fowler cleans uniforms for the Panthers and the Terriers.

Bill Fowler ’57 knows which football stadiums leave the toughest stains. He knows which dry-cleaning chemicals give uniforms the best smell, and he knows the water-temperature combinations that help new jerseys hold their color.

He should. 

After all, he’s been cleaning uniforms for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers for the past 21 years.

“They gave me this jersey the first season,” says Fowler, pointing to the inaugural season commemorative patch on the left shoulder of the jersey. It’s twice the size of the jerseys of today. “They don’t want any excess material today. They don’t want the defense to have anything to grab onto.”

The late Coach Lee Hanning, former Wofford football coach and equipment manager, introduced Fowler to Jackie Miles, the equipment manager for the Panthers. Fowler already was cleaning Wofford’s coaching gear and helping with especially stubborn stains on player uniforms. 

On a typical week during the season, Fowler Brothers Cleaners picks up the Panthers’ uniforms in Charlotte on Monday. Then he returns them fresh on Wednesday.

“We use a cleaner with a citrus smell,” says Fowler. “You never want a locker room smelling like a locker room. If it smells like an orange or grapefruit grove, you’re OK.”

Wofford works into the Fowler Brothers schedule with a Tuesday pick up and Thursday return. 

“With Wofford and the Panthers, it’s all a family affair,” says Fowler.

Fowler started working in the family business when he was 12, and he says he’ll be happy if he takes his last breath among the hangers, irons and racks of clothes. 

Until then, he’s proud to be one of the few dry cleaners in the country serving both a championship college team and a championship NFL team.

by Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89

Spring 2016