PNJ Editor Emeritus Now A Florida Legend

Pensacola's legendary newsman J. Earle Bowden will be inducted into the Florida Press Association Hall of Fame this week.

Bowden — one of Pensacola's most beloved and influential citizens and editor emeritus of the Pensacola News Journal — will be inducted into the Florida Press Association Hall of Fame during the organization's News Industry Summit in Sarasota. Bowden died in February 2015 at the age of 86.

You'd be hard-pressed to find any journalist who had more of an impact on his or her community than Bowden, who used his published pulpit to push for preservation while advocating responsible progress. His defining accomplishment is the creation of Gulf Islands National Seashore in 1971, a preservation project he helped lead and campaign for beginning six years earlier in the pages of the Pensacola News Journal. He is now known as "The Father of Gulf Islands National Seashore" and was was named an "honorary park ranger" by the  secretary of the Interior. The road from Pensacola Beach to Navarre Beach is J. Earle Bowden Way.

J. Earle Bowden admires a street sign to be placed on County Road 399, which runs through the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Bowden played a major role is preserving the seashore so it could be enjoyed by everyone. News Journal file photo

He was a historian and a journalist, and often, the two passions merged as he championed preservation efforts across Northwest Florida.

Shortly after Bowden's death, former Pensacola News Journal Managing Editor Ken Fortenberry (1983-1988) said, "Probably no one in the last 100 years had a more significant impact on what Pensacola and the Gulf Coast of Florida have become than Earle Bowden."

Bowden began his journalism career in the early 1950s while serving in the U.S. Air Force, writing for "The Planesman" military newspaper at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. He joined the Pensacola News Journal on Sept. 30, 1953. He first worked as a sports writer, then editorial page editor, editorial cartoonist, and served as editor-in-chief from 1966 to his retirement in 1997. After he retired, Bowden was honored with the title of editor emeritus. But even after his retirement, Bowden remained a frequent and welcome part of the News Journal family, writing occasional editorials and drawing cartoons for the PNJ. He was also an accomplished author, who, in addition to an autobiography, also released books of essays, books on history, books on writing and also released a book of his editorial cartoons. His final book, a history of newspapers on the Gulf Coast and across the state, is currently being edited by Jacki Wilson, archivist for the University of West Florida Historic Trust, which will serve as book publisher. No release date has been set.

PNJ Opinion Page Editor Tom Ninestine said this of Bowden in his nominating letter to the FPA: "When I came for my job interview in 1998, I had the great fortune to meet Mr. Bowden. During that short talk, I could sense his passion for the written word and his love of community. It convinced me to join the Pensacola News Journal 18 years ago. I feel privileged to have worked with Mr. Bowden. I learned something from him every time we talked. More than a year after his death I continue to rely on his wisdom and strive to make Pensacola a better community. He is the finest newspaper man I have worked with in nearly 30 years."

The only thing to add to Tom's statement: Ditto.

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Source : https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2016/09/13/moon-pnj-legend-now-florida-legend/90301114/

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