Born in Jackson, Mississippi to Reverend John W.E. Bowen, Jr. and Margaret Davis Bowen, Senator John Bowen attended Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania until he was drafted into the United States Army in 1945. While serving in the Army, Senator Bowen qualified as a sharpshooter and was eventually assigned to the military police as a special criminal investigator. In October 1946, Senator Bowen received an Honorable Discharge and resumed his academic studies.
He enrolled at the University of Southern California as a pre-dental student and studied there for two years. He then moved to Columbus and enrolled at The Ohio State University college of Law, graduating in 1953. Upon receiving his Law degree, he began his career in the Columbus City Attorney¿s Office. He later engaged in the private practice of law for more than 50 years and served as an Adjunct Professor at The Ohio State University College of law.
Senator Bowen has been very active in the United Methodist Church on a national, regional, and local basis including Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Methodist Union of the Columbus, Ohio district and member of the 1956 Provisional Committee that established the Methodist Theological School in Delaware, Ohio where he also served as a member of the Board of Trustees. From 1967-1970, Senator Bowen distinguished himself as the first African-American from Franklin County to serve as a member of the Ohio Senate. Although busy with his law practice, Senator Bowen found time to serve as Chairman of the Board of directors of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati; was a member of the Ohio Board of Regents; Vice President of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce and Trustee of the Ohio Center Company for Community Urban Redevelopment.
Additionally, Senator Bowen has held numerous positions with the YMCA at the local and regional levels and he was Co-Chairman of the United Negro College Fund¿s Columbus Campaign. Senator Bowen is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Among his countless awards and citations, Senator Bowen received The Ohio State University Centennial Achievement Award in 1970, and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree by Ohio Northern University in 1971.
Senator Bowen and his wife Jeanne Leahr Bowen are the parents of three daughters and one son. They have four adult grandchildren and one great grandson.