James Fowler

January 11, 1931January 20, 2015

Colonel (USMCR-Ret.) James Loftus Fowler, founder of the Marine Corps Marathon, died on January 20, 2015, of congestive heart failure. He was born in Mineola, New York, on January 11, 1931 and grew up in Larchmont, New York. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1952, he was commissioned in the United States Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant. Following duty in Korea as a Rifle Platoon Leader, Col. Fowler returned to civilian life and joined the Central Intelligence Agency. In 1958 he received a law degree from Georgetown University. In 1960 he earned an MBA from the University of Virginia Graduate Business School (now known as the Darden School). In 1961 he received an LLM from Georgetown Law School. During this period from 1958 to 1961, Col. Fowler served as a Company Officer in the USMC 13th Infantry Reserve Battalion. Returning to New York City to join a family business, he was assigned to Volunteer Training Unit 1-11. While attached to VTU 1-11, he attended parachute and ranger training at Ft. Bragg. In 1966 he returned to active duty and served in Vietnam as an Infantry Battalion Commander with the 3rd Battalion 4th Marines. Severely wounded in an enemy assault on Fire Base, Winchester, he spent ten months in the Portsmouth (VA) Naval Hospital. During his convalescence, he attended the Armed Forces Staff College and served as a faculty member upon release from the hospital. Released from active duty in 1970, Col. Fowler taught business law at Long Island University in Southampton, New York and continued graduate studies. In 1973 he received a MS degree from Columbia University School of Business. In 1974, returning to active duty, he accepted an assignment at Headquarters Marine Corps and while serving in this capacity, he conceived the idea of creating the Marine Corps Marathon. The first Marathon in 1976 brought 1,175 runners and has grown to 30,000 participants today. In 1981 Col. Fowler was appointed Commanding Officer of Headquarters Detachment #3, 4th Marine Division USMCR. This unit was tasked to support the 4th MAB during Operation Northern Wedding/Bold Guard 82. Col. Fowler again retired from active duty in 1982 and went to work with the Office of the General Counsel of the Navy as Counsel to the Auditor General. In 1985 he joined Chesebrough-Ponds, which was acquired by Unilever in 1987, and served for 20 years as Director of Corporate Security. In August 2007 the U.S. Postal Service issued the Purple Heart Commemorative Postage Stamp, using one of Col. Fowler’s two Purple Hearts as a template. He was invited to participate in the First Day Issuance Ceremony at Mt. Vernon. Col. Fowler was a life member of the Army-Navy Club, the New York Athletic Club, and the Union League Club, and was an original member of the Order of St. Crispin, an organization for highly decorated Marine officers. He was a Lay Eucharistic Minister at the National Cathedral and ushered there with his wife Betsy for over three decades. Col. Fowler was known for his devotion to his family and friends, his spirit of adventure, his love of learning, and his pride in and enjoyment of his dogs. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Betsy Fowler, and his cousins Jack, Anne, Neil, John, Mary, and Nicholas Callaghan. A funeral and celebration of Col. Fowler’s life will be held at the Old Post Chapel at Ft. Myer followed by internment with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery at a future date.


  • Funeral Service Tuesday, September 15, 2015

James Fowler

have a memory or condolence to add?


February 10, 2015

Jim was a friend and fellow St Crispin member.He was a Marine's Marine.He will be missed.Our thoughts and prayers are with Betsy.
Semper Fidelis
Frank & Carol Pacello
LtCol Usmc ret

Douglas Erley

February 8, 2015

He was a mentor and a friend. He was a great Marine. He will be missed by many who's luves he touched. My condolences to Betsy
Doug Erley
Major, USMC (Ret)

Terrence Arndt

January 26, 2015

I served under Colonel Fowler when he was CO of 2/25. He was one of the finest officers that the Marine Corps had. He was a giant.
Semper Fi, Colonel,

Capt. Terry Arndt

Robert Dart, CWO-5, USMCR (Ret)

January 26, 2015

This is a man who will truly be missed. In addition to his endless accomplishments he also developed the USMC FBI Law Enforcement Specialist Course at Quantico in 1976, which I attended as a Chicago police officer. When he came to Chicago we would meet. Our prayers are with you Betsy and with him.