Responsible Stewards of Their Many Blessings

James and Anissa BowersAnissa and James Bowers ’00

Responsible Stewardship is one of Saint Leo University’s six core values. In part, its description states: “Our Creator has blessed us with an abundance of resources” and that “We must be resourceful.” For James and Anissa Bowers, it represents more than text on paper or words on a wall. For them, this core value personally represents a true application of helping to fulfill Saint Leo’s mission and goals and aligns perfectly with their own personal values and beliefs.

James Bowers Jr., USN (Ret.), a retired senior corporal with the Tampa Police Department, received his associate of arts in 1998 and his bachelor of science in criminal justice in 2000 from Saint Leo University. He has dedicated his career to the military and law enforcement.

He and his wife, Anissa, USAF (Ret.), recently established the Bowers Family Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will benefit military/law enforcement students (veterans or active duty), fire fighters, or other first responders who are in financial need.

Strong Military Connections

The Bowers family has strong ties to the military. James, who first joined the U.S. Navy for four years of active duty (during the Vietnam era), later enlisted in the U.S. Army. In September 1990, he was activated to serve in Desert Shield/Desert Storm for a tour of duty until April 1991. His unit was one of the first 20,000 troops to be deployed to the Middle East.

After his enlistment ended with the Army Reserve, he joined a Navy Reserve unit (NAVACTSUK). He was activated in September 2001 to serve during the global war on terrorism. He served two years on active duty at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, FL. He retired in 2004 from the Navy Reserves as a chief petty officer.

James’ dad, James Sr., and his father’s three brothers all served our country – his father in the U.S. Army (Korean War), his brothers John and Robert in the U.S. Army (World War II), and brother George in the U.S. Navy (World War II).

James, Anissa, and James III Bowers

James and Anissa Bowers with their son, James III

Anissa joined the U.S. Air Force in 1994 and attended Officer Training School at Maxwell Force Base in Montgomery, AL. Her career field was financial management. She served numerous assignments stateside and two overseas tours in Germany. She was deployed to Iraq in 2008-2009. Her last assignment was at Scott AFB in Illinois, where she retired as a major in the USAF.

James and Anissa Bowers, who have been married for more than 18 years, have a four-year-old son, James III, who is an active, smart young boy full of wonder and excitement. For Christmas he asked Santa Claus to bring him a spy glass and an airplane. James has three grown daughters from a previous marriage – Jessica, Beatrice, and Juliee.

Instrumental Criminal Justice Faculty

As a student at Saint Leo, James was enrolled in the weekend courses, which were intensive and fast-paced. He was particularly impressed with the late Barry Glover, whom he characterized as “a very important person in my studies.” Professor Glover made sure the program material was relevant and exciting. “He and the other faculty who worked with him, made it worthwhile. They had a lot of passion and desire for the material. Professor Glover was instrumental in helping me get my degree in a timely manner,” said James.

Befriending Tampa’s New Police Chief

In the late 1980s, James was a corporal with the City of Tampa Police Department (TPD) when a young Eric Ward, a 2013 alumnus of Saint Leo, was a police officer in training. James befriended Ward and took him under his wing. “I approached Eric several times to get a feel of how he was doing and eventually recruited him for the police track team,” he said. The TPD regularly participated in the Law Enforcement Olympics. “He was a likeable person – a good guy and funny too,” James remarked. He liked being around him, so in 1991-92 when the TPD started a semi-pro football team, James asked Ward and other officers to participate. When Ward was promoted to the position of chief of police in April 2015, James felt a strong sense of pride. “I had a really good feeling when he was appointed; I was very proud of him and his accomplishments.”

Humble Beginnings and a Strong Faith

Both James and Anissa came from humble beginnings and are appreciative of what God has given them. After living briefly in Marianna, FL (60 miles west of Tallahassee), James’ family moved to the Belmont Heights neighborhood in East Tampa. He graduated from Leto High School.

Anissa was raised in Albany, GA, and graduated from Monroe High School. She received her BA in Finance from Georgia Southern.

“We now have a decent life and don’t miss a meal and can pay all our bills,” stated James. “The Lord has truly blessed us, and He put it upon my heart to give back. I am thankful that Anissa has allowed me to contribute to the university from our combined incomes.”

Personal Stewards – Generosity toward Others

Their need to give back will serve a useful purpose for others. “We are honored to set aside funds to assist students who may be in need. The Lord has generously provided for us, and we are truly stewards of His abundant gifts.”

For more information about making a donation to Saint Leo University, visit the Access to Excellence page or call (352) 588-8483.


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