d. July 12, 2014
Mary Lita Bowen passed away in Roseville at the age of 81 on July 12, 2014, after a brief illness. She left this world surrounded by family.
Mary was born in Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico in 1933. After graduating from the American High School in Mexico City, Mary moved to California to attend UCLA, married Benton Bowen Jr. and had two children. While raising her children, she went back to school at both Fresno State College and UC Davis and majored in Spanish literature. Teaching credentials came next and she began sharing her love for the language with students at Fresno State College and Oxnard College.
In addition to teaching part-time, she also worked full-time as a bilingual court interpreter for more than 25 years. Her friends at the courthouse remember Mary’s generosity. She donated her time during lunch and taught Spanish to the court bailiffs and anyone else who was interested. Mary often brought in mango salad to share with her co-workers. She enjoyed her tenure at the Ventura County Courthouse — where she was known as Maria — and dearly missed all her friends when she moved to Roseville after retiring in 2003.
Mary always had a funny joke to tell and had a great sense of humor, a trait she inherited from her mother. She loved watching UCLA football games, sneaking chocolate snacks, playing canasta, reading and spending time with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
One subject that Mary rarely talked about was the fact that she was a 59-year polio survivor. She spent six months in an iron lung after contracting the virus that eventually left her without the use of her left arm or right shoulder. In spite of this, she raised a family, drove a car, earned a master’s degree and worked full-time while retaining a positive and optimistic outlook on life, never complaining or asking for special accommodations. She was a true inspiration to her family and friends.
She was preceded in death by her mother, Emma “Muzzy” Russey; her father, Merrell Russey; her sister, Dorothy Parmelee; and her brother, Merrell.
Mary is survived by her sister, Betty Poggi; son, Robert Bowen; daughter, Susan Sweetser; grandchildren, Stacey Hall, Heather Mauer, Tyler Bowen, Spencer Bowen and Sarah Sweetser; and three great-grandchildren.
There will be a public memorial service, with lunch to follow, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 2351 Pleasant Grove Blvd. in Roseville, on Saturday, July 26, at 10 a.m. Private interment will follow at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to help the Rotary End Polio effort on behalf of honoree/decedent Mary Bowen, www.endpolio.org/donate. Letters may be sent to Susan Sweetser, 103 Lincoln St., Roseville CA 95678
The family wishes to extend their gratitude to Pinnacle Home Care for their compassionate care in her final years and to the volunteers from St. John’s Church who brought her communion and visited with her every week.
We will always carry your memory in our hearts. Words cannot express how much we love and will miss you.
Please share love and memories on Mary’s guestbook at www.cochranewagemann.com.