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Virginia Bowlby

August 10, 1922 - July 20, 2020
Lawton, MI



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Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-6256
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1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
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Life Story / Obituary


In many ways, Virginia Bowlby was a quiet woman who enjoyed her own company, yet at the center of her heart was the family she so dearly loved. Virginia was hard working and did her best to make a good life for her children. Memories of holidays and other family gatherings and how important they were to Virginia will always be a constant reminder of the wonderful times spent in her company. Gone yet never to be forgotten, she will be dearly missed.

A decade of industrial expansion, the Roaring Twenties was an era of prosperity and good fortune in the U.S. With America’s thirst for entertainment, actor Charlie Chaplin was at the height of fame while the sounds of jazz lured many to the dance floor even as prohibition was law of the land. For Earl and Ruth Peterson, August 10, 1922, held special meaning as they welcomed the birth of their little girl, Virginia Ruth, into their long awaited arms.

Born and raised in Bangor, Michigan, Virginia grew up alongside her brothers, Garold and Archie, and her sisters, Alice, Zora, and Velma. Her father worked on several different farms in the area to support their household while her mother remained at home. Virginia walked to and attended the local schools, and enjoyed singing in the high school choir. Having enjoyed a childhood typical of the times, it was during these years when the Great Depression created financial havoc for all, and Virginia’s family was no exception. Times were hard, but her family remained thankful for much.

Lyle Bowlby was a young man who captured Virginia’s heart. They began dating when Lyle returned home from World War II and in 1946, the young couple was happily married. They soon began a family of their own with the addition of their son, Albert, and their three daughters, Sharon, Marie, and Judith. They made a good home for their thriving family in Lawton. A strict mother, it was important to Virginia to teach her children how to follow the rules in life and to make good lives for themselves. Her parents lived close by and as a family they often shared dinners together. The kids always remembered having their own table to sit at when eating at their grandparent’s home which made for fond memories.

Other family memories included times spent camping. Virginia would often pack-up the kids and take them camping up north to Baldwin where her children even discovered Blue Moon ice cream. For Virginia and the kids, it was always hardcore tent camping. She loved cooking and serving their meals outdoors and afterwards she and her family would talk for hours around the campfire enjoying wonderful laughter, joking around, and sharing great food. They often camped with extended family where the kids had cousins to play with. Virginia also enjoyed sharing family picnics with her family and in general just liked taking in the outdoors.

Virginia preferred quiet, calm holidays. She would have the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and stuffing, and there was always a ham at Christmas. Every Fourth of July, Virginia and her sisters purposely made a turkey dinner just because their brother said turkey was only to be eaten on Thanksgiving!

Virginia added to their household income when her children were young by working the local farms doing field work. It was when her beloved Lyle died in 1960, when Virginia decided to further her education. She set her mind on it and received her GED and went on to attend Southwestern Michigan College where she earned her nursing degree. In 1966, Virginia began working as a nurse and did so for the next 20 years of which she thoroughly enjoyed. Most of those years were spent working at Lakeview Hospital in Paw Paw where she was proudly recognized for her years of dedicated service.

In her free time, Virginia enjoyed doing crafts and she was a writer of poetry. She liked old fashioned country music and watching Westerns on TV along with Perry Mason. As an avid reader, she liked the regular newspaper and doing the crossword puzzles. Her favorite magazines included “Reminisce” and “The National Enquire”. As a nurse working the third shift, she needed to sleep most of the day which made it difficult to socialize, but for a time Virginia was active in Tops, a weight loss club, and through it she made many lasting friendships.

Known as a homebody and an introvert, Virginia liked spending time on her own enjoying her own space and home. From the time her kids were young there was always a pet to be found in Virginia’s home and well into her adult life she loved her cats and dogs. Although fondly missed, memories of Virginia live on in the hearts of those she leaves behind.

Virginia Ruth Bowlby, age 97, of Lawton, died peacefully on July 20, 2020 at Meadow Woods in Bloomingdale. Virginia was preceded in death by her husband, Lyle in 1960, her son, Albert in 1984, and by her daughter, Sharon DeVries in 2019. She was also preceded in death by her brothers, Garold Peterson and Archie Peterson, and by her sisters, Alice Peterson and Zora Florek. Surviving are her children, Marie (Santos) Martinez and Judith (Charles) Rambo; 11 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; four great great-grandchildren; her sister, Velma Davis; and several nieces and nephews. A private Life Story service will be held at Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Home, 60900 M-40 Hwy, Paw Paw. (269) 657-3870. Please visit Virginia’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may read her Life Story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign her online guestbook. Memorial donations may be directed to a charity of your choice.