Woodward, Okla. — Minnie Alcie Ewing Bowles was born on June 12, 1919 on a ranch near Range, Oklahoma and died on June 28, 2012 in Austin, Texas at the age of 93.
Minnie was the second of three children born to Lew and Willie Scarborough Ewing. Her older brother was Lew (Frank) and her younger sister was Amanda Belle. When Minnie was four years old, her mother died. She and her baby sister left the ranch near Hardesty in the Oklahoma Panhandle to live with their Aunt Minnie and Uncle Bob Cooke, first in Norman, Oklahoma, and then on a grapefruit farm in McAllen, Texas. When her father remarried, Minnie returned to the ranch.
During the Great Depression and Dust Bowl days, Minnie lived with an aunt and uncle in Guymon so that she could attend high school. She graduated as Salutatorian of the Class of 1937 and went on to college at Panhandle A&M.
Minnie transferred to Northwestern State Teachers' College in Alva, where she earned her way by working as a wheat loan clerk. Minnie received her degree in 1941, although she jeopardized her graduation by sneaking out of the dorm to go see Gone With the Wind and got caught trying to slip back in after hours. Eleanor Roosevelt was the Commencement speaker.
Minnie needed a job, and she heard from an Alva classmate, Ora Lea Black, that Arnett needed teachers. Minnie accepted a teaching position in Arnett thinking she’d get a year’s experience then move on to a larger and less dusty town. However, at the end of the school year, Minnie was having so much fun that she remained in Arnett for the better part of 70 years.
Mary Cresswell played matchmaker for “Miss Ewing” and Clell Bowles. They were married March 8, 1947. Two years later their only child, Nancy, was born.
Matchmaker Mary and Minnie opened the Arnett Style Shop in 1953 with Minnie as the alteration diva. When Mary bowed out after several years, Clell and Minnie used their $2,500 wheat profit to purchase the shop. She told her new friends in Austin, “I loved every minute in the Arnett Style Shop and never wanted to retire!” The dress shop proprietor was gratified and delighted that she was able to be in the shop for 57 years, finally retiring at age 91.
For Minnie, being at the shop was “playful” work. Having fun was a vital part of her life. For several years in the late ‘50s Minnie enjoyed water skiing. Her son-in-law, Ken Koch, remembers her as his Aunt Norma Lea’s good-looking friend in the black swimsuit. The Arnett Style Shop sponsored a bowling league in the ‘60’. The legend is that they were far and away not the best bowlers but they were the best at having fun. Grandma Minnie valued family vacations where she was able to spend time and have adventures with her grandson Worth. In later years Minnie adored playing chicken foot dominoes with her treasured friends.
In October 2011, Minnie moved to Austin and adjusted amazingly well to life in her retirement community where she participated in yoga and Tai Chi classes, played Mexican train dominoes and cards with her new friends, and enjoyed spending time with her family. When asked if she didn’t just love living in Austin in her beautiful retirement center she answered, “ This pretty place is definitely second choice. I preferred living in Arnett with my friends of many years. But I’m not able to do that now. So if you need a place to be, this is a nice place and I’m where I should be at this time in my life.”
Minnie leaves her daughter Nancy, son-in-law Ken, grandson Worth, nieces Linda (Candy) Johnson and Joy Bowles Jones, and many friends to cherish her memory.
Funeral services were held Saturday, August 4, 2012 at the United Methodist Church, Arnett, Oklahoma. Burial was at Shattuck Memorial Cemetery. Services arranged by Shaw Funeral Home, Arnett. Condolences may be made to the family and Memorial Tribute viewed at shawfuneralhome.net