Rea Mowery died in Whittier, CA, on January 12, 2014. Always active and independent, he had driven from Washington to visit family in Southern California in mid-December. |
Rea was born on May 22, 1923, in Harrisburg, PA, to Laura Margaret Bruner and Oscar Rea Mowery Sr., a baker, piano player and railroad worker who died when Rea was 10.
Rea studied printing, worked as a fireman on the Pennsylvania Railroad and then joined the Marine Corps to serve in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he earned a BA in Sociology from San Diego State College while working for the San Diego YMCA. Called up for the Korean War, Rea rejoined the Marine Corps, staying through three tours of duty in Vietnam. He retired in 1968 as Chief Warrant Officer (CW0-3) and Marine Gunner, with numerous awards, decorations and friends earned over his long career. He took with him a lifelong enjoyment of the outdoors, an unsurpassed ability to survive difficult situations, and more stories than he had time to share.
As a civilian, Rea worked with the Rancho Santa Fe Association for 14 years and then became a founding officer of RSF National Bank. He retired from the bank just before his 79th birthday.
Rea supported the Rancho Santa Fe community and schools through work in the San Dieguito Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts of America, Red Cross, RSF Historical Society, RSF Library Guild, RSF Garden Club, and other organizations, earning him the title "Mr. Rancho Santa Fe".
A 35-year member of RSF Rotary Club, Rea served on the Board of Directors and as President. He also helped establish the Kingston, Washington, Rotary Club, traveling between the two communities for over 10 years. In 2002, he moved fulltime to Kingston.
At home, Rea enjoyed cooking, woodworking, playing the organ, camping, hiking, fishing, and Aztec football. He was a lifelong student of Lincoln and Gettysburg, where his great-grandfather served in an Artillery Regiment in the Union Army at age 14.
Rea and Betty Willett were married in San Diego in 1945. They raised four children as they moved from one duty station to another. Rea cared for Betty at their home in Kingston until her death in January 2011.
He is survived by four children, Melissa Jane Hill of Whittier, CA, Ruth Maupin of Kingston, WA, Jarratt Mowery of San Diego, CA, and Rea Malcolm Mowery of Seattle, WA; 12 grandchildren; 7 great-grandchildren; and sisters, Elizabeth Hasko of Roseland, FL, and Loretta Stumbaugh of Harrisburg, PA.
Services will be held at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California, on February 7, 2014, at 2:00 pm.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations are suggested to the Gettysburg Foundation, Defense of Cemetery Hill Rehabilitation Project (gettysburgfoundation.org) or to the Wounded Warrior Project (woundedwarriorproject.org).
Published in the Rancho Santa Fe Review on Feb. 6, 2014