July 29, 1915 — June 3, 2011
Willa Jane Wolfe Bowman died June 3, 2011. Born July 29, 1915, to William and Rosa Wolfe in Morgantown, W.Va., she was the first in her immediate family to graduate from a University, which she did with honors as president of the home economics honorary Phi Upsilon Omicron.
After graduating from West Virginia University in 1938, she moved to Franklin, W.Va., to work for the Farm Security federal assistance program. Her home economics professors had recommended her for this work because of her own life experience with the endemic poverty and subsistence agriculture typical of that time.
She married John Dice Bowman in Franklin in 1940 and together they began an adventure that took them to seven western states, until John’s death in 1968. As they formed their family, Willa Jane continually sought opportunity to use her artistic and intellectual talents. Her first loves were teaching sewing and tailoring. In later life she had a distinguished career as a beekeeper, producing award-winning honey under her “Roving Iris” brand.
Willa Jane also was matriarch of a small and loving family: children Fran Bowman and Willa and Stuart Pettygrove, and grandchildren Will Bowman, and Grace and Margaret Pettygrove. She moved to Rancho Yolo in Davis in 2000 to be closer to this family.
She was preceded in death by infant son John Wolfe Bowman, husband John, two sisters and a brother. She is survived by one brother, Dr. Charles Wolfe (Hester Ann) of Lancaster, Penn.
Memorial gifts may be made to West Virginia University Foundation, California Rare Fruit Growers or the 4-H Foundation. Private graveside services were held in San Mateo on June 7, 2011. The family is grateful for the loving and skillful care given by nursing and rehabilitation staff at Courtyard Health Care.