Who is Deltha Bowles? (part 2)

Jay & Don 1921When I first found the old newspaper clipping telling about my great-auntie’s death, I was a little confused.  Why did the article say two children were orphaned when Clyde & Deltha only had one child with them in the car?  Everyone else survived including: Clyde’s mother and Deltha’s sister with her own children.  I thought about this for a few days before it occurred to me to check the census!  It was in the 1920 US Federal Census that I first learned about their oldest son, Donald.  So, what happened to the two boys after their parents’ deaths?  I found Don Gowers in the 1930 and 1940 US Federal Censuses living with his maternal grandparents, William & Viola Bowles, in Nephi.  I also found pictures of Don indicating that he had attended BYU in 1939 & 1940 and then had transferred to USU in 1941… after that, the paper trail ended.

Except… I couldn’t find any information about his death and kept running across an address in Nephi, Utah.  Could Donald Ray Gowers still be alive?!  It was time for a road trip.  In fact, Amelia and I went on a “treasure hunt” to  find my first cousin 2 times removed!  We first stopped at my parents’ home in Nephi to share the purpose of our visit.  They assured us that a Don Gowers lived only a few blocks away.  We found the home and knocked on the door to be greeted by Marian Gowers.  She said her father was around somewhere… just then he came zipping around the side of the home riding on one of those electric scooters.  He was sporting a BYU baseball cap and had a Louis L’Amour paperback tucked in the front of his pants… Amelia and I immediately fell in love!

This is a picture of my cousin, Don Gowers, in front of one of several quilts he has made completely by hand.  This one earned a purple ribbon at the recent county fair.  He started quilting only a couple of years ago, around the time he turned 90-years old.  We learned that Don had met Rula Yearsley at USU and they had married in the Logan Temple.  Also, he graduated from USU with a degree in Engineering, but held a variety of different jobs before becoming a Social Worker in Juab County for 17-years.  Rula, who is nervous around strangers, stayed in the back room but listened to our conversation.  She gave permission for us to walk upstairs and view old family pictures on the walls.  Marion, their daughter, lives a few houses away but was there that day and made a wonderful hostess.

I had a couple of burning questions for Don.  Why weren’t you in the car the day your parents died?  He said he was at his Grandpa/Grandma Bowles’ home at the time.  It was a newer car that Clyde & Deltha were showing off to family members and there just wasn’t room for him.  What was it like to grow up in a household separated from your brother?  Don said “it wasn’t right,” but they really had no say since they were so young when the accident happened.  They grew up in the same town about 6 blocks apart and attended the same high school.  How did you feel when your brother Jay died tragically in 1943?  Don said he was training with the NAVY in the middle of the ocean at the time and was unable to get leave to attend the funeral, but Rula went.

*I went back for a second visit with Don a few weeks later and he could barely remember me.  He had celebrated his 93rd birthday on September 18, 2012.  I gave him some old family pictures and rekindled his memory for our common ancestry.  We talked about BYU football and our hopes for our favorite team.  I left, promising to keep in touch.

UPDATE: Don Gowers passed away peacefully in Nephi, Utah on March 4, 2016.  Dean and I went to Don’s viewing and I was finally able to meet Rula!  And, it was good to see and chat with Marion again 🙂

Obit- Gowers, Donald Ray

Funeral Prog- Gowers, Donald Ray

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Summer of Bereavement | The Life & Times of Lorrie J.

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