This is in memory of Vice Admiral Earl B. Fowler USN (ret) who died at sea on February 8, 2008 while on a 60th wedding anniversary cruise with his beloved wife Helen.
Earl was a distinguished leader who reached the top of his profession in both his military and civilian careers. His service to the defense of this country and his dedication to the cause of freedom are immeasurable. To those of us he left behind, he was many things —Husband --- Father --- Naval Officer --- Businessman --- Patriot --- Navy Leaguer --- Friend. He will be missed dearly and remembered well by all in whom he came in contact.
Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Earl B. Fowler enlisted in the Navy in 1943. He served sea duty tours aboard USS Leary (DDR- 879), USS Wright (CVL-48), USS Ranger (CV-4) and USS Columbia (CL-56). He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1946 and MIT in 1949 and held degrees in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. He also completed Harvard University’s Advanced Management Program in later career.
He retired from the Navy in 1985 after 42 years of active service. At the pinnacle of his career he served as Commander Naval Sea Systems Command and Chief Engineer of the Navy, responsible for design, development, and procurement of all Navy ships and shipboard weapons systems. This included all Navy shipbuilding and repair, eight Naval Shipyards, all Naval Weapons Stations and the largest procurement office in the world and about one third of the Navy’s budget. He had over 5,000 people in his headquarters and 115,000 in his Command.
Under his watch four battleships were activated, two nuclear carriers were authorized, the first Aegis ships were built and the Arleigh Burke Class destroyers were designed. He was in that job for over five years, the longest tenure on record. Immediately prior, he was Commander Naval Electronic Systems Command, responsible for design, development and procurement of naval communications, radar, surveillance and space systems.
Earlier tours included responsibility for construction of ships to support the Apollo Program, oceanographic research and survey ships, minesweepers and hydrofoils. Also he was responsible for material and engineering assistance to Republic of China serving with the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Taiwan. Additional tours of duty were served in Point Mugu, Pearl Harbor, San Francisco and Charleston. Acknowledged as “a sailor who built ships”, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, in his book Command of the Seas…Building the 600 Ship Navy cited Vice Admiral Fowler as one of the “blue suiter superstars” in the success of building the 600 ship Navy.
Among his awards, he was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit. After retiring from the Navy, Vice Admiral Fowler served as a Director of five public companies and several private ones, as well as consultant to 25 other companies.
He was CEO of what is now known as Health Net, California, TRE in Los Angeles, Miltope Corporation, Long Island, ANDAC in Arlington VA, and Inteliiworxx in Sarasota. He was Chairman of SPD Technologies, Philadelphia, CEO and founder of FPBSM Industries and founder and owner of Fowler International Group, Arlington VA. Earl served as a Board member of the Sarasota Manatee Council of the Navy League for many years, as Editor of the “Anchor Line” and provided leadership and encouragement for many Navy League events, especially fund raisers where he was often the “idea man” or prime mover. His leadership was essential to establishing the Council’s Charity Endowment and the success of the Vice Admiral Earl B. Fowler Annual Charity Golf Tournament, which is named in his honor.
He was also a member of the Military Officers Association, the Cosmos Club, Army and Navy Country Club, Sons of the American Revolution, Misty Creek Country Club of Sarasota, the New York Yacht Club, and Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota.
The Sarasota Manatee Council shares in the grief of his wife Helen and their two daughters, Mary and Joan, and offers its heartfelt condolences.
As friends and associates who knew and loved him, we will not forget his great leadership and many contributions and will miss him dearly. We commend him to the Almighty.