Louise Bowen Barkley, 95, passed away peacefully on Monday, February 19, 2018, at Abernethy Laurels Retirement Community, where she lived for nearly three years. She was the essence of a Southern woman. She was intelligent, beautiful, elegant, graceful, gracious and strong. She was devoted to her family, her friends, her students, and her church.
To memorialize her long and happy life, a funeral service will be held on Saturday, March 10, 2018, at First United Methodist Church, 300 North Main Avenue, Newton, NC. The family will receive friends starting at 12:30 pm in the Gomedela Room at the Church; the service will begin in the Sanctuary at 2:00 pm, with Rev. Lara Greene officiating. Burial will follow at Southside Cemetery, where she will be buried beside her beloved Earl.
Louise was born in Moore County, NC, to Frederick Fulton Bowen and Mary Goldie Ferguson Bowen. She spent most of her childhood in the Dallas region of Gaston County; she was educated in the Dallas and Gastonia city schools. After high school she attended Sacred Heart Junior College (Belmont, NC) and Barrett School of Medical Technology (Charlotte, NC). She earned the Medical Technologist professional designation from the American Society of Clinical Pathologists. Louise worked several years in hospitals in Lincolnton and Shelby.
Louise married Earl Lee Barkley, the love of her life, on July 6, 1946. They were married for 67 years. Even in their later years, they loved nothing more than walking hand in hand on the beach or sitting on the porch together at their house on Lake Norman, watching the sunset or the blue heron on the pier.
They moved to Newton, NC, in 1948. Both Earl and Louise were very active in the community. Louise served as the first Executive Secretary for the Catawba County Unit of the American Cancer Society, where she also headed the education branch.
Later, Louise enrolled at Lenoir-Rhyne College and earned her Bachelor of Science degree. She taught biology and chemistry at Hickory High School (1964-1970). She then taught physical science and earth science at Newton-Conover Junior High School (1970-1985). She was passionate about teaching, and was loved and respected by her students and her fellow teachers. In 1974 the Newton-Conover School System named Louise the Teacher of the Year. She was professionally active, serving as President of Classroom Teachers, participating on evaluation teams for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, attending workshops and meetings of North Carolina Science Teachers, and advising her school's Science Club. She was a member and frequent officeholder in Delta Kappa Gamma, the honor society for teachers. She recently received recognition from the society for 45 years of membership.
Louise was a devoted Christian and was very active in the First United Methodist Church in Newton. She was a leader in United Methodist Women, Ladies Bible Class, and the church's Administrative Council and Trustees. As church historian, she researched and wrote Storm and Fire, a history of the church, in 1998.
In the community Louise was involved with Meals on Wheels, the Catawba County Historical Association, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Friendship Bible Coffee, as well as a local book club, a bridge club, and a garden club.
Louise wrote a history of the Bowen family. She also wrote a book that records Earl Barkley's Army Air Force military service in the Pacific theater during World War II.
Louise stayed active in her retirement and loved her community at Abernethy Laurels. Throughout her life she never stopped learning. She was an avid reader, an excellent writer, a dedicated genealogist, a remarkable painter, an exceptional gardener and she maintained her scientific and spiritual curiosity until her dying day.
Louise dearly loved her family and friends. She was always there for Earl and the boys for whatever they needed. She was a constant source of love and affection, and was intensely proud of her family. She was a steadfast and loving friend, and maintained many friendships throughout her life. Many of Pat, Tim and John's friends considered her a second mother.
She retained her grace, wit and elegance, even in her 90s. She was the ultimate hostess. She loved cooking and entertaining, and was known for her fabulous parties. She held an annual Christmas party for the extended Barkley family at their home in Dogwood Hills, a New Year's party for their neighbors, bridge clubs, dinner parties for their Sunday School classes and Methodist Youth Fellowship at the Lake House, birthday parties and countless other parties for Pat, Tim, John and their friends. She loved cooking for the family but was happiest when cooking for 40 or more. And many of Pat, Tim, John and Jason's coworkers enjoyed fantastic leftover cakes and desserts she made that were brought back from family birthdays and other celebrations.
Husband Earl predeceased Louise in October 2013. She was also preceded in death by her two brothers, Fred Bowen, Jr., of Bladenboro, and Grier Bowen of Gastonia.
A loving wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and friend, Louise will be missed by all who knew her. Surviving family include sons Pat Barkley and wife, Peggy, of Raleigh, Tim Barkley and wife, Miriam, of Greensboro, and John Barkley of Raleigh; grandsons Jason Barkley and wife, Rebecca, of Fuquay-Varina, and Jack Barkley of Raleigh; great grandchildren Eva Louise Barkley and Joey Barkley of Fuquay-Varina.
She was also the Matriarch for the extended Barkley and Bowen family. She has many loving nieces and nephews, great nieces and great nephews, and their children and grandchildren who survive her, many of whom she served as substitute parent for since they lost their own mothers and fathers. It is an end of era for the Barkleys and Bowens and they will miss her dearly.
Memorial gifts in lieu of flowers may go to the First United Methodist Church, designated to the United Methodist Women or the Church Capital Campaign. The address is PO Box 926, Newton, NC 28658. However, flowers are also welcome.
Memories of Louise may also be posted on the Willis-Reynolds website at http://www.legacy.com/guestbook/DignityMemorial/guestbook.aspx?n=louise-barkley&pid=188260256.
Special appreciation from the family goes to Kim Boston for her devotion to Louise. In addition, the family wishes to thank the staff at Abernethy Laurels for their keen attention and care.
Condolences may be sent to the Barkley family and www.willisreynoldsfh.com
Willis-Reynolds Funeral Home & Crematory in Newton is honored to serve the Barkley family.