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Marine Corps Marathon founder honored with building dedication

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Marine Corps Marathon Building
Guests view the plaque dedicating the Marine Corps Marathon building to retired Col. James Fowler, founder of the Marine Corps Marathon, after the dedication cermeony at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Sept. 14, 2015. Fowler founded the Marine Corps Marathon in 1975, while still serving at Headquarters Marine Corps, to help create a community of goodwill between the Marine Corps and the civilian populace. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Karnath/Released)

Story by Sgt. Melissa Karnath

Family and friends of retired Col. James Loftus Fowler gathered for the dedication of the Marine Corps Marathon building to Fowler, the founder of the marathon, at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Sept. 14, 2015.

The Marine Corps Marathon building was built between 2003-2005 at Marine Corps Base Quantico. In 2005, Fowler cut the ribbon at the opening of the building. Today the building is called Fowler Hall.

“Ten years later we are now adding the name to this building that represents the vision Jim held so dearly,” said Rick Nealis, the Marine Corps Marathon Race Director. “I am sure that he is humbled by our attention, but he is very proud of his wife, family, his Marines and the heritage of this building and all that it represents.”

Fowler founded the Marine Corps Marathon in 1975, while still serving at Headquarters Marine Corps, to help create a community of goodwill between the Marine Corps and the civilian populace. He was the director of the marathon called the Marine Corps Reserve Marathon in 1976 and 1977 and participated in the marathon in 1978.

The first marathon cost two dollars to enter, had 1,175 registered participants and was operated by the Marine Corps Reserve. It was the largest first-time marathon and had the lowest cost. In 1978, the marathon was operated by the active duty Marine Corps. Today, the marathon known as “The People’s Marathon,” has grown to 30,000 participants.

“This is a great honor that has been given this morning,” said Betsy Fowler, widow of James Fowler. “It is not the only tribute today, your presence here is a very important honor.”

Fowler was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marines Corps Reserve in 1952. During his career he served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He was decorated with the Bronze Star Medal and two Purple Heart Medals during his career. Fowler retired from the Marine Corps after more than 20 years of service. Fowler passed away in January 2015.

“I think of Jim looking down on us right now, seeing a twinkle in his eye and a smile with a hint of mischief in it,” said Betsy. “I’m sure he would be very pleased today.”

Betsy Fowler
Betsy Fowler, widow of Colonel James Fowler founder of the Marine Corps Marathon, speaks at the Marine Corps Marathon building dedication at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Sept. 14, 2015. Fowler founded the Marine Corps Marathon in 1975, while still serving at Headquarters Marine Corps, to help create a community of goodwill between the Marine Corps and the civilian populace. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Karnath/Released)

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