Obituary for Mary Nelson Blandford Bowen

Mary Nelson Blandford Bowen of Gentley Farm in Rockland, Warren County, Virginia passed away peacefully in her sleep at home on September 26, 2011, at the age of 94.

Mrs. Bowen, a woman of exceptional style and grace, was born July 28, 1917, in Richmond, Virginia to Charles Edward Blandford and Blanche Nelson Blandford. When she was about two years of age, the Great Flu Epidemic took the life of her mother, and so she went to live in Stafford County, Virginia with her maternal grandparents, William Armistead Nelson and Henrietta Payne Nelson. It was her aunt, Henrietta Nelson, later Mrs. Chowning Hall of Front Royal, Virginia, who was mostly responsible for her loving care and upbringing for many years. Her paternal grandparents were Henry and Rosina Blandford of Hayes, Middlesex, England.

On January 23, 1943, she married Edward Maurice Bowen, Sr., a prominent Warren County farmer, businessman, and community leader, who died February 9, 1981. Since her marriage, for 68 years, she has lived at her beloved Gentley, the Bowen family home. Mrs. Bowen created a lovely home and treasured the beauty and peace of the land surrounding her.

She was president of her senior class at Averett College in Danville, Virginia, graduating in 1936. During World War II, she served as the executive secretary of the Warren County Rationing Board. After the war, she devoted her time to raising a family and managing a home.

In 1948, she was instrumental in combining the local Methodist and Baptist country churches into one church known as the Rockland Community Church, where she served as the first board secretary. During her lifetime, she held many positions in this church, where her quiet leadership was valued by all.     She was a past member of the Warren County Ministerial Association and served on the Mental Health Board in Warren County. She was a past member of The Garden Club of Warren County.

Her home, Gentley, was known throughout the area as a haven for her friends. In 1959, she welcomed Dr. Albert E. Day, a renowned lecturer and author to her home, where he led spiritual enlightenment classes and offered counseling to many in need of help. After his death, Mrs. Bowen continued to open her home to her many friends for study and prayer. In her later years, she never gave up her search for more knowledge and was always an avid reader.

Surviving are two sons and three daughters: Charles B. Burch and his wife, Linda of Pinehurst, NC; Judith Burch Geddy and her husband, Bruce Benzie of Rockland, Warren County, VA; Nancy Burch Brassington of Bellefonte, PA; E. Maurice Bowen, Jr. and Susan Randolph Bowen and her husband, Ron Morris of Gentley Farm, Rockland, Warren County, VA. Also, seven grandchildren: Thomas Burch and his wife, Kammy of Durham, NC; Catherine Geddy Ledbetter and her husband, Michael of Houston, TX; Christopher Geddy and his wife, Jennifer of San Diego, CA and Sykesville, MD; Dr. Kenneth Brassington of Irvine, CA; Emily Brassington of State College, PA; Mary Elizabeth Bowen Chiu and her husband, Jonathan of Reston, VA; and Edward Maurice Bowen, III of Bloomington, IN. There are seven great grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 8, 2011, at 2:00 P.M. at Rockland Community Church. The service will be conducted by Rev. Christof Weber. The family will receive friends at a reception at Gentley afterwards.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Blue Ridge Hospice, 333 West Cork St., Winchester, VA 22601 or to Rockland Community Church, c/o George Chapman, Treasurer, 473 Bowling View Road, Front Royal, VA 22630.

Arrangements are being handled by the Enders & Shirley Funeral Home, Berryville.

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