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Lois “Larrie” Bowerman, 82, a longtime Halfway resident, died March 11, 2004, at St. Elizabeth Health Services.
Her memorial service will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Pine Valley Presbyterian Church in Halfway.
Lois was born Sept. 30, 1921, in the high altitude of Victor, Colo., to Washington Denver and Gwendolyn Honeycutt. She was the second-eldest of four girls. Lois received good grades in school and received her eighth-grade diploma in Spokane in 1935. However, the Great Depression had set in and she opted not to continue her education because she could not afford new clothes. Her father’s automobile business soon failed and for the next few years the family, like many others, traveled the western states looking for work.
By the late 1930s things started looking up for Lois. The Honeycutts arrived in Everett, Wash., where Lois met her first love, Harold Sanders. In 1940 Lois married Harold and within the next three years gave birth to her first two children, Steve and Gail. In 1943 Harold, Lois and their two young children rejoined the Honeycutts in the secluded farming community of Pine Valley, Ore. Harold was drafted into the Navy and after his return from the South Pacific they eventually bought some land in Carson where they started construction of a home.
After Harold’s accidental death in 1948 Lois met and married Jarold L. Bowerman, son of Floyd and Esta Bowerman of Pine Valley. As a family they moved to the Tri-Cities, Wash., in 1950, where Jerry was employed at Hanford. It was in Richland, Wash., that Lois gave birth to two more children, Mike and Linn. In 1953 Jerry, Lois and their four children returned to Pine Valley for one year before moving to what is now Lakewood, Wash. It was in their home overlooking Steilacoom Lake that the children were raised and Lois found some time to renew her interest in poetry and oil painting.
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In the 1960s life took an unfortunate turn for Lois. To supplement the family’s income Lois sold cosmetics and started a short career working in a retail drugstore. In 1967 Jerry accepted a better paying position in Puyallup, Wash., with the idea that Lois would spend more time at home. They sold their house in Lakewood and moved to a brick rambler in the Puyallup Valley. However, within a year Jerry was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He died in February 1968, leaving Lois a widow for the second time within a 20-year period.
The misfortunes of life had their effect on Lois. Although she never lost her independent nature, Lois was never quite the same person.
In 1972, when the last of the children moved out, Lois returned to her property in Carson where her parents had been living since the 1940s. Relaxing in the seclusion of Pine Valley, she was able to renew her interest in poetry and oil painting. In 1974 Lois sold her Carson place and bought a piece of land and a mobile home on West Bell Street in Halfway. It was here that she would live the final 30 years of her life.
Lois was an intelligent woman who took pride in all that she did. She was a strong-willed person and at the same time she had a great deal of inner passion. One only has to observe one of her finely detailed paintings or read one of her poems to see these qualities. She enjoyed learning new facts, quizzing herself with a math problem, and keeping up with the national news. On the domestic side Lois was well-known for her cooking and baking skills. At one time she commercially sold her banana cream pies in the restaurants of Halfway. Lois enjoyed the outdoors and marveled at nature. She and Freda Martin spent many hours fishing the creeks of Pine Valley or casting for salmon in the Snake.
Next to her children, Lois took great pride in her meticulous oil paintings and her passionate poems. She introduced Pine Valley to her painting skills when she won a ribbon for a painting she entered at a Baker County Fair arts and crafts exhibit. This particular painting was acquired by Everett and Margaret Baird of Pine Valley. It depicted a turn-of-the-century horse-drawn shipment of gold descending from the mines of Cornucopia. Many locals of the time recognized the scene through Lois’ rendition of a legendary large tree that once flanked the wagon trail to Copia.
Lois’ poems are a pleasure to read. They varied from deep philosophical thoughts about life and nature, to lighthearted children’s poems. Her children’s poems of the 1950s were originally composed to entertain a terminally ill child in Lakewood, Wash., and were published in a local newspaper. A limited publishing of her poems will soon be available again.
She was of the generation who grew up in the Depression era. Lois knew of hard work and the value of a dollar. To say she had the ability to improvise was an understatement. A good example of this was a 1950s whim of Lois’ to paint a scene in her memory. The fact that she did not have the necessary materials or money to buy them never stopped Lois. Her Depression era “make do” attitude took over and before you knew it she created a beautiful seascape using a mixture of white shoe polish and food coloring from the kitchen. Persistence was a key element in her personality.
Honesty and integrity is what she lived and is what she expected. If you got in her way or failed to show some respect you definitely would get a piece of her mind. For the most part she lived quietly and to herself but her wonderful talents will be shared for years to come.
Lois is survived by her children, Gail Lynn Kepler and Linnelle Alane Osman and her husband, Dave, of Pine Valley, Stephen Harold Bowerman and his wife, Terry Rae, of Honolulu, Jarold Michael Bowerman and his wife, Angelika, of Seattle; 15 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren; her sister and brother-in-law, Shirley and Harry Coyle of Pine Valley; and several nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, W.D. and Gwendolyn Honeycutt; her husbands, Harold G. Sanders and Jarold (Jerry) L. Bowerman, and her sisters, Gaye (Bessie) Kempe and Ginger (Thelma) Kempe.
Contributions in Lois’ memory may be made to the Halfway/Oxbow Ambulance Service in care of Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, March 26, 2004
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor