Hattie Ethel Ardelia Butcher Bowman was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend. She peacefully transitioned from life into eternity on September 22, 2021, at the age of 107. She lived a full, abundant, and blessed life.
“Ethel,” as she was affectionately called, was born on March 25, 1914, in Nottoway County, Virginia, to John and Hattie Butcher. She was the 6th of 12 children. She graduated from Lucy Addison High School in Roanoke, Virginia, while living with her Aunt Ella and Uncle Robert Butcher. In Roanoke, she bonded with and was close to her sister-cousins Laverne, Almond, and Helen. She attended Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia, where she majored in Sociology and French. She met and fell in love with her husband, James A. Bowman. They were married on December 23, 1943, and remained married until his death on April 15, 1981. From their union came an inquisitive, sharp-witted son, Arthur W. Bowman. She loved to share stories about her son and was extremely proud of him.
After graduating from Virginia State College, Ethel pursued graduate education at Hampton Institute and the University of Virginia (UVA). She valued education and was a life-long learner. She was a role model for working hard to achieve your dreams. Professionally, Ethel worked as an educator and retired from Williamsburg-James City County Schools in 1979 after 43 years of service. She taught French and was a School Counselor. Over the years, she touched many students and had a great impact on their lives. Even though she had one biological child, her house was home to many. She was like a mother to so many.
Ethel was a trailblazer and leader in her community. She was involved with the NAACP, National League of Negro Women, League of Women Voters, Virginia State Alumni Association, American Personnel, and Guidance Association, Retired Teachers Association, and “Meals on Wheels.” She was the recipient of many awards and was frequently the keynote speaker at church and civic organization programs. She fed the hungry, donated to charities, gave from the heart, was non-judgmental of people (but severely judgemental of dogs), and helped whoever she could in any way that she could. She would often quote Aristotle, “There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals.” She believed that people should be treated equitably and ethically, recognizing and valuing individual needs and differences.
Along with community engagement, she enjoyed leisurely time bowling, reading, writing letters to friends and family, spending time outdoors with her son and grandchildren, and traveling. She especially enjoyed visiting and spending time with her sister-in-law, Eflyn Morris, who preceded her in death. She was a classy, well-dressed lady who could be spotted zipping around Williamsburg in her blue ‘72 Duster. A long-time neighbor fondly called her a “Grand lady of the community.”
Ethel accepted Christ at an early age and walked by faith in all that she did. During her early years, she attended Poplar Lawn Baptist Church in Blackstone, VA. After moving to Williamsburg, she joined First Baptist Church, Williamsburg, and remained committed and faithful to the ministry until her health declined. Over the years, she was involved in many ministries such as the Senior Missionaries, Women’s Fellowship, Bible Study, and Senior Choir. Up until her transition, Ethel would spend hours each day reading devotionals. She loved hymns and singing. “It is Well With My Soul” was one of her favorite songs.
While at Virginia State, she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Over the years, she was actively engaged, headed committees, and participated in programs and initiatives. She loved her sorority and held true the five basic tenets and mission of AKA. Over the years, she traveled the country for the biennial AKA boule. In 2021, she was graced with a 75-year AKA gold pin.
Family was very important to Ethel, and she loved spending time with her many nieces and nephews. She had a special bond with her niece Irene Reynolds Clark. Ethel loved and cherished her son Wayne and daughter-in-law, Helen Bowman. Both were devoted to her and endearingly cared for her when she could no longer care for herself independently. As a mother, she was compassionate and loving, sacrificing and supportive. Nothing brought her more joy than spending time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was blessed to see her family grow, flourish, and blossom. Ethel has seven grandchildren Tonya Logan (Sam), Marcia Huff (Kevin), Brian Bowman (Brennan), Michael Bowman (Tara), Nia Bowman, Mya Bowman, and James Bowman; and eleven great-grandchildren Malai Logan, Arianna Bowman, Cole Logan, Madisyn Logan, Macyn Logan, Josiah Bowman, Sebastian Huff, Kendal Bowman, Bryce Bowman, Sonia Huff, and Noah Bowman.
She would say that you need to be a Godly person, treat people well, be kind and loving, and lean, depend, and trust in God. Until the end, she thanked God for her life and family. She will be missed greatly by those who had the pleasure of knowing and loving her. Ethel leaves behind a legacy of faith, love, family, community service, education, and social justice advocacy. She was a beacon of light and love, and her legacy will live on through those she touched.
A funeral service will be held at noon Wednesday, September 29, 2021, at Whiting’s Funeral Home. Livestream will be available at the beginning of the service. Mrs. Bowman may be viewed from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday in the funeral home, Facial coverings are required at all services.
Professional services entrusted to the staff of Whiting’s Funeral Home, 7005 Pocahontas Trail, Williamsburg, Virginia 23185. 757-229-3011 whitingsfuneralhome.com
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