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Elizabeth (Betty) Bown

1924 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Elizabeth (Betty) Bown Obituary
ELIZABETH (BETTY) KALPAKIAN BOWN, Age 92, went to Heaven on February 4, 2016, strong in her Christian faith and surrounded by the love of family, friends and church. She was born on January 18, 1924, to Harry and Helen Kalpakian, in Venice (Los Angeles), and was the first member of her family born on American soil after their escape from genocide in Turkish Armenia. The third of four sisters, she graduated from UCLA in 1949 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and a California Teaching Credential. She had interspersed her studies with employment, including supporting the World War II effort by working for the U.S. Navy. It was at UCLA where she met Finley J. Bown. They were married in 1950, and moved to Riverside. After brief work as an elementary school teacher, Betty dedicated immense time and energy to Finley and their three children -- Richard, Barbara and Ronald. Betty always said that this family was her greatest achievement in life, and she was married 47+ years until Finley's passing in 1998. After staying home for 20 years with the children and teaching them music and dance, and coaching "The Bown Trio" in many local performances, Betty worked at several part-time jobs, including on the staff at First Congregational Church of Riverside. She was substitute church secretary, Junior Choir Director, Cherub Choir Director, and Sunday School Director, for six years each. She and Finley also taught Sunday School, served on church boards, and sponsored the evening Young Adult Fellowship. Later in life, she was a volunteer at Riverside Community Hospital for 20 years, and also carried on a personal ministry touching others in love through the sending of weekly post cards until the age of 91. She was honored to serve as chaplain for P.E.O. Chapter OH of Riverside during her last years. Always a positive thinker and an innovator, Betty was responsible for founding several organizations in Riverside -- an alumnae chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon (music sorority) in 1964, Riverside Inter-Church Christian Educators in 1973, Inland Empire Armenian Club in 1992, and www.come (witty widows and widowers) at First Congregational Church. She was almost single-handedly responsible for bringing Riverside its first Armenian Apostolic Church, established in 2004, calling this her "dream come true." She served on its parish council for the first four years. Betty's ability to learn and grow at any age was an inspiration to all around her. In her 50's she learned sign language and began substitute teaching at California School for the Deaf. At age 60 she studied ballet and jazz at Riverside Community College. At 70 she played in the Riverside Flute Choir. At 76 she went up in a hot air balloon. At 80 she began playing the violin, and at 90 she went on her first motorcycle ride. Betty is survived by son Richard Bown and daughter Barbara Bown of Riverside; son Ronald Bown, daughter-in-law Sara Bown and grandson Brandon Bown of Lemoore, CA; granddaughter Cherylin Bown and great granddaughter Malayah Boyce of Charleston, WV; and grandson Andre Bown of Athens, OH. She is also survived by her sister, Peggy Johnson of Bellingham, WA, plus many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews. Betty was preceded in death by her parents Harry and Helen Kalpakian, husband Finley Bown, and sisters Angagh MacKellar Elwood and Harriett Donnell. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, February 21, at 2 pm, at First Congregational Church of Riverside, with a reception to follow. Those who wish to make a memorial donation may do so to First Congregational Church or Armenian Apostolic Church of Riverside.

Published in Press-Enterprise from Feb. 16 to Feb. 18, 2016
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