James I. Bowman earned a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Lehigh University in 1951, where he was a member of Tau Beta Phi fraternity.
He joined Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio shortly after graduation, holding various management positions until transferring to Cape Girardeau, Missouri in 1969 to serve as the founding plant manager. Bowman served on in that position until his retirement in 1984, and was well respected and loved by Cape Girardeau employees during his leadership. He is remembered for his care and concern for his employees, and his practice of knowing and addressing all employees by their first name.
Bowman was active in his local rotary club for many years, and served on the St. Francis Medical Center Board of Directors. He also served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.