His father was former Governor of Oregon Jay Bowerman; his mother had grown up in Fossil. The family returned to Fossil after the parents divorced in 1913.
One more interesting fact in the bioghraphy of this outstanding person is that he had been in the ROTC and Army Reserve, and then joined the United States Army as a 2nd Lieutenant in the days following the Pearl Harbor attack. He was assigned to Fort Lawton in Washington and served a year there before being assigned to the 86th Mountain Infantry Regiment at Camp Hale in Leadville, Colorado. Along with the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment, his regiment would become the 10th Mountain Division. Bowerman's duty entailed organizing the troops' supplies and maintaining the mules used to carry the supplies in the mountains. On December 23, 1944, the division arrived in Naples, Italy and soon moved north to the mountains of northern Italy. During his tour of duty, Bowerman was promoted to commander of the 86th Regiment's First Battalion at the rank of Major. Bowerman negotiated a stand-down of German forces near the Brenner Pass in the days before the surrender of the German army in all of Italy.
Bowerman was married Barbara Young on June 22, 1936. Their first son, Jon, was born June 22, 1938. William J. Bowerman, Jr. (“Jay”) was born November 17, 1942.