Sister Dolores (Gregory Marie) Fowler, a Sister of Notre Dame for 66 years, died peacefully at home in Longview, Washington, on August 16, after living with the effects of osteoarthritis for many years and, more recently, with cancer. To think of her is to smile, remembering her trademark sense of humor, her creativity, great energy and joyful outlook on life.
Born in San Jose to Edward and Rosa Fowler on March 12, 1932, Dolores was the youngest of seven children. Dolores was in 5th grade when she noticed the small yellow school bus that drove past their home each day. “I told my mother that I wanted to go to the school that had that little yellow bus, and the next year, she enrolled me in St. Joseph’s School,” she said. By the time she was in seventh grade, she knew she wanted to be a Sister. Dolores attended Notre Dame High School in San Jose and entered the Community in 1950.
For more than thirty years, Sister taught in many Notre Dame de Namur elementary schools in California and in Portland, Oregon, first with second graders, then with junior high students. Former students remember with great fondness her humor, storytelling, and licorice treats. The story is told that many of them learned math through playing poker!
Being the first 8th grade teacher at St. Thomas More School in Lynnwood, Washington, in 1980 introduced her to the beautiful Northwest, and she remained in that area until her death. She served as a pastoral minister at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Everett, Washington, then taught at St. Rose School in Longview, Washington. She loved being a Eucharistic minister and regularly visiting the elderly at Montecello Retirement Center, where she continued to bring her good humor, contagious laugh, funny stories and jokes.
Dolores was grateful to have stayed in Longview long enough to enjoy seeing the fruits of her labors. “It’s just beautiful seeing all these young people I’ve taught growing up, having their own families, and coming back to visit,” she said.
Until osteoarthritis slowed her down, she was a talented painter, seamstress, maker of jewelry and stained glass, and a creative wood designer.
Sister Dolores is predeceased by her brothers Edward and Vernal Fowler and her sisters, Virginia Silveria, Juanita Castro, Elizabeth Gross and Marie Grifin. She and her joyful spirit will be lovingly remembered and greatly missed by former students and colleagues, cousins, nieces and nephews, her longtime good friend and recent caregiver, Sister Margaret Lederer, and her Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
In Washington, mass was celebrated at 11:00 on August 26, at St. Rose Church in Longview.
Sister Dolores is interred at Santa Clara Mission Cemetery in Santa Clara, California.
Some memories of and from Sr. Dolores…
- Dolores had great devotion to the Sacred Heart.
- After more than 15 years in the community, the rules on Sisters returning home for visits was loosened. “The first time I came home, my mother invited 32 people,” she said.
- One of her welcoming phrases was “Come melt some ice with us.”
- An often-heard thought: “It’s none of my never-mind.”