Though Sally Bowerman of Joseph recently celebrated her 81st birthday she was “at the top of her game” when she died in a car crash in a dangerous intersection in Portland last week, according to both her daughters.
Bowerman enjoyed many lives during 81 years and, in some ways, was many different people. She was a mother and nurse, a writer and sports fan, a patron of the arts and community booster, a world traveler.
During her high school years Bowerman was a prize winning equestrian, a show jumper in an English saddle. Though later she became the epitome of a Wallowa County farm wife, feeding hay hands and leading 4-H clubs, she never did quite turn into a cowgirl and her one time riding during a family cattle drive didn’t end well. “It’s dangerous to ride English in Hells Canyon,” explained a nephew.
Both of her parents, Jay and Wayfe Bowerman, were lawyers and her father was also a politician, serving as president of the State Senate and then governor for about six months in 1910 when his predecessor became incapacitated.
Sally Bowerman wanted to be a doctor, and did receive a biology degree from the University of Oregon after attending Stanford University for two years. Apparently it was a “family rule” that Bowermans could go away for college, but must return to graduate from an Oregon college. She was sidetracked from her career goal when she married, and moved to Wallowa County where her Hockett cousins lived and the family had ranch property.
Then she became the mother of three lively daughters, and though Sally had a very strict, proper upbringing, her daughters were raised with great deal more freedom.
Bowerman was very involved in 4-H, leading a knitting club and “trucking our horses around all over the place,” recalls daughter Carol Chrisman. Though they weren’t crazy about the domestic 4-H projects, Sally Bowerman’s rule was “if you start it, you finish it.”
Among her other sidelines, Sally taught French at Joseph High School one year.
Bowerman was very education minded, and tried to expose her daughters to all the things she herself enjoyed: museum, orchestras, all types of cultural events. “In Mexico we had to see every church in the country,” one of her daughters remembered about a vacation trip South.
When Wendy, the oldest daughter, was a freshman in high school the family moved to Arizona, though they always returned to Wallowa County during the summers. Bowerman began taking classes at the University of Arizona, and obtained her nursing degree in the middle stage of her life.
Back in Wallowa County she worked as a nurse at Wallowa Memorial Hospital until she reached retirement age, and then indulged her desire to travel the world: Turkey, Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, China. Her sister, Jayne Hall, was married to a diplomat and had often lived in foreign lands, and her daughters speculated that after retirement she was making up for lost time. “She was very adventurous. She wanted to see the world,” her daughters said.
A voracious reader, Sally Bowerman was especially fond of mysteries and had a collection of one or two thousand books. Bowerman herself wrote in recent years and became a member of the Fishtrap board of directors. She had finished writing a mystery, and earlier this week family members were looking for the manuscript.
In the early 1990s Bowerman joined a community theater group in Joseph, acting in such plays as “The Drunkard” and “Bell, Book and Candle.”
She loved attending University of Oregon home football games, and rarely missed a sporting event of grandchildren Jacob and Caleb DeBoie, the children of Sally’s middle daughter Mary DeBoie, who died in a tragic sledding accident seven years ago.
Her daughters described the day of their mother’s death as “the perfect day” for her: she’d been shopping in the city, had her hair done, and was looking forward to dinner out with a friend.
“She really was in her prime, she’d hit her stride, she was going and doing,” said her daughters.
Wallowa County Chieftain, Thursday, April 22, 2004
By Elaine Dickenson of the Chieftain
Photo included with story
Contributed By: Sue Wells
Sarah (Sally) Booth Bowerman of Joseph, 81, died on April 14, 2004, in Portland. She was born in Portland on March 23, 1923, to Jay Bowerman, former governor of Oregon, and his wife, Wayfe Hockett Bowerman.
Ms. Bowerman was raised in Portland and graduated from Lincoln High School. She moved to Joseph, with her husband, Dick Rathbun, in the late 1940’s and ran a ranch there for nearly 25 years. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelor’s degree in biology and obtained her nursing degree from Arizona State University in 1969. She worked as a nurse for nearly 20 years in Phoenix, Ariz., La Grande and at Wallowa Memorial Hospital in Enterprise. Following her retirement from nursing, she worked at the Wallowa County Museum during the summers in Joseph.
She was an active member of a number of civic and religious groups in Wallowa County, including the PEO Sisterhood, Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority, National Grange, CowBelles, Fishtrap, Inc., the Write Group, and Joseph United Methodist Church. She loved reading, writing, traveling, and patronizing the performing arts. Together with her good friend, Stan Weber, she was an avid fan of the U of O Ducks football team and also loved to attend her grandsons’ baseball, basketball and football games in the Joseph area.
She is survived by her sister, Jayne Hall; her children, Wendy McCullough and Carol Chrisman; her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth DeBoie; her sons-in-law, Dan DeBoie and Paul Chrisman; and her grandchildren, Brian McCullough, Joseph McCullough, Jacob DeBoie and Caleb DeBoie. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Mary DeBoie, and siblings, Bill Bowerman, Dan Bowerman and Elizabeth Bowerman
Her brother, Bill Bowerman, was track coach at the University of Oregon for 25 years and was co-founder of Nike.
A memorial service for Sally Bowerman will be held at Joseph United Methodist Church (at the corner of 3rd and Lake Streets) on Wednesday, April 21, 2004, at 11 a.m. A reception will follow at the Masonic Hall in Joseph.
A separate memorial reception will be held at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland on Saturday, April 24, 2004, at 2 p.m. All friends and family of Sally Bowerman are welcome. The address is: Multnomah Athletic Club Couch Room (please check in at the front desk), 1849 S.W. Salmon Street, Portland, OR 97205; 503-223-8742.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Wallowa County Museum or the Joseph United Methodist Church, in care of the Bollman Funeral Home, 315 W. Main St., Enterprise OR 97828.
Wallowa County Chieftain, Thursday, April 22, 2000
Contributed By: Sue Wells