Bethine Mary Bowen

Bethine Mary Bowen passed away at Martin Health Center in Bloomington, IL, on Sunday, August 13, 2017. She was 96 years old. Born Bethine Mary Birkhofer on January 18, 1921, in Dow City, Iowa, she was the daughter of Elmer Birkhofer and Alice Pearl Bramley. She was the granddaughter of John Birkhofer and Mary Ann Marolf, both emigrants from Walspervil, Switzerland, and Charles Henry Bramley and Patience Jane Lingard, both emigrants from Worably and Nettleton, Lincolnshire, England. Bethine spent her early years in Crawford County, Iowa, on her parent’s farm. She attended schools in Dow City, and later in Schaller and Storm Lake, where she was graduated from high school. She attended Parsons College, and it was while studying there that she met and married her husband, Claude Melvin Bowen, on October 12, 1941, in Memphis, MO.She spent her WWII years in Seattle raising their three children while her husband flew as an Army Air Corps pilot in the China, Burma, India Campaign. Later years their work with civil service, missions, and as sponsors of Dale Carnegie Training, they lived in Cherokee, IA; Hill City and Nemo, SD; Walla Walla, WA; Ft. Wayne, IN; Iowa City, IA; and Bloomington, IL. After living in Oak Brook and Wheaton, IL for over 20 years, they retired back to Bloomington and maintained a winter home in Lake Havasu City, AZ.

Bethine was an avid bowler. At one time she bowled in three leagues, all on the same day. She always had a book in hand, sometimes reading three at a time. Bethine loved watching any kind of sporting event, and Sports Illustrated quickly became her favorite magazine. She traveled the world with her husband as they volunteered their time with Wycliffe Bible Translators, Tentmaker Youth Ministry, and International Training Alliance. She was a member of Evangelical Church in Bloomington. Bethine was preceded in death by her husband of 66 years, Claude. Also preceding in death were her three brothers: David Elmer, Donald Leon, Denver D. Birkhofer, and one sister, Thelma Ann Beck. Surviving are her son, James Dean Bowen (Jane), of Lake Havasu City, AZ; and twin daughters, Deanna C. Bilyeu (Richard) and Claudia D. Sigler, both of Normal. Surviving grandchildren are: Renee Lynn Reiman, Bothell, WA; Randall James Bowen (Rose), Dubuque, IA; Russell Dean Bowen, Ojai, CA; Toni Bethine Faulkner (Brian), Eureka, IL, and Thomas Duane Bilyeu, Normal. Great-grandchildren include: Jesse Reiman and Cheyanne Reiman of Bothell, WA.; James Russell and Jacob William Bowen of Dubuque, IA. Per Bethine’s wishes there will be no visitation. Her graveside funeral service will be 1:00 P.M. Tuesday, August 15, 2017 at East Lawn Cemetery, Bloomington, IL. Rev. Michael An will be officiating. Calvert & Metzler Memorial Home, Bloomington, IL is in charge of arrangements. Please view the obituary and share your condolences and memories online at

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