Editor emeritus of the Pensacola News Journal, Jesse Earle Bowden was editor-in-chief and vice president of the newspaper for thirty-one years (1966-1997) in an active career spanning fifty years in Pensacola. Since 1983 he has been a faculty associate in the Department of Communications at the University of West Florida, teaching journalistic writing courses for twenty-two years.
Author of eleven books, Bowden wrote The Write Way, An Editor's Guidebook for Students of Writing, a textbook used by students in his University of West Florida classes. The Florida State University journalism graduate collected more than 1,200 of his editorial cartoons and illustrations in the book, Drawing from An Editor's Life, and co-edited The Emerald Coast Review, an anthology published by the West Florida Literary Federation, which installed him in its Hall of Honor. In 1985, University of West Florida awarded Bowden as honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.
A pioneer of Pensacola's historical preservation movement, Bowden has served as chairman of the Historic Pensacola Preservation Board since 1982, and became president of West Florida Preservation, Inc., when the state board's operations were transferred to the University of West Florida in 1991. The preservation program headquarters is named the J. Earle Bowden Building in downtown Pensacola.
Known as the "father" of Gulf Islands National Seashore for his long editorial campaign to establish the national seacoast park in Florida and Mississippi, Bowden was named an Honorary Park Ranger by the Secretary of Interior. Escambia County Commissioners named the seashore highway on Santa Rosa Island as "J. Earle Bowden Way."