M. Gertrude Bowen

Honored by:Mary Schultz
Brick location:F:11  map

Born July 13, 1888 - Died April 21, 1966

Mary Gertrude Howard was born to Henry and Hepzibeth Howard at Yorkshire, Harrison County, Iowa. "Gertie" attended school at Yorkshire and Neola. On September 27, 1911, at the age of 23, she married Walter R. Bowen. Their early married years were spent on a farm three miles north of Neola where three daughters and a son were born. The son, Royal Eugene, only lived three days. On June 3, 1925, less than a month after his death, the home was completely demolished by a tornado. The family then moved to Omaha.

Hardship continued to visit Gertie when she became inflicted by a degenerative bone disease of the hip. Walking became a challenge. But her greatest challenge came later when her husband left her and their three daughters ... Grace, Ruth, and Wilma. A divorce finally ended the marriage in the spring of 1935.

To make ends meet, Gertie took in a boarder and roomer, but she also depended on financial contributions from Grace and Ruth. She never received any alimony. Her oldest daughter, Grace, married Logan Fleming in April 1941 and moved to Traer, Iowa. In December of that same year, Gertie accepted their invitation to live with them. She continued to live with them and their three children until 1951 when she moved into her own home in Traer .... a home purchased for her by her former husband, Walter Bowen.

Gertie's hip condition continued to decline, marked progressively by her use of a cane, then crutches, and finally a wheelchair. To further complicate her life, she was diagnosed with diabetes. She continued to resist confinement, however, and was always willing to ride anywhere whenever a family member extended an invitation.

Throughout her life, Gertie's prime interest was her family. She was always aware of current events through relationships with her seven grandchildren. Not only would she know the homecoming queen, she would also know the attendants, the won-loss record for the basketball team, and who was dating whom amongst her grandchildren's friends. She discovered solace and comfort from sitting in her rocking chair and observing the world around her.

Although she had every reason to complain, she rarely did. She accepted the circumstances of her life with grace, and in so doing taught her family survival tips, which have influenced three generations as of this writing.