The late James Otto Bowles, Jr. was born on April 2, 1933, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was the eldest son and second of seven children born to the late Mr. and Mrs. James O. Bowles, Sr. After a period of illness, he departed this life on Friday, June 24, 2022.
Cherishing his memory are his wife, Hazel R. Bowles, daughters, Pamela E. Bowles and Janel O. Bowles, granddaughter, Cheryn J. E. Moore, sister, Jean Bowles, sisters-in-law, Joyce C. Bowles and Sylvia M. Bowles, a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and dedicated friends.
James Jr. was educated in the Chattanooga Public Schools at Fort Cheatham Elementary, Orchard Knob Junior High and Howard High Schools. In 1953, he enlisted in the United States Army, was stationed in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and worked at the Pentagon. Upon leaving the military, he returned to Chattanooga to complete high school. He graduated with Howard High’s Class of 1957 and received the Ochs-Oakes Award for citizenship. James Jr. attended Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia, for two years.
Hazel Elizabeth Robinson said “yes” to James on March 11, 1963. They experienced 59 years of love, connection, and friendship. Truly a Girl Dad, he was often heard bragging about his two lovely daughters and, Pamela’s daughter, Cheryn.
A hard worker and dedicated provider, he counseled at Taft School for Boys in Pikeville, Tn., and was a substitute teacher at Howard High. He was employed by Colonial Bakery as the first Black route salesman.
A natural communicator, socializer, and community champion, James Jr. was proprietor of Bowles Liquor Store on MLK Boulevard, aka 9th street, the “Big Nine” where black-owned businesses flourished. After successfully operating the liquor store for over 20 years, James, Jr. served as a head custodian for Hamilton County Schools until his retirement.
The advancement of the black community was a top priority for James Jr. He took great pride in being one of the Progressive Ten, a group of men who organized Security Federal Savings and Loan Association. He was a life member of the NAACP and top fundraiser for the United Negro College Fund. James Jr. maintained membership in The Esquires Social Club and, with Hazel, was a member of The Couples Club.
James Jr. accepted Christ at an early age and was a faithful and devoted member of Greater New Home Baptist Church. He continued to show his love for the Lord and connected with The Breakthrough Fellowship in Smyrna, Georgia, when he and Hazel relocated to Mableton, Ga., to live with their daughters. Known for memorable sayings, James, Jr. had a natural way with words. A few of his favorites were: “Blessed by the best to see your pretty face in the place” - “Ain’t nothing wrong with being henpecked as long as you pecked by the right hen” - “The good Lord loves you and so do I.” He was full of life and seemingly never had a bad day. He rarely complained even though he suffered pain daily at the end. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and all who knew him.
Public viewing will be held from 2-6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5, at John P. Franklin Funeral Home, 1101 Dodds Ave., 423-622-9995.
An 11 a.m. funeral service will be held on Wednesday, July 6, at Greater New Home Baptist Church, 2809-13th Avenue.
Interment will be in Chattanooga National Cemetery. Gate time at 1 p.m.