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Eva Olene (Cain) Dowell (1921-2017)


Posted By: Mark Christian
Date: 12/2/2017 at 14:37:18

From Stevens Memorial Chapel obituary, Ames, Story County, Iowa:

Eva Olene Cain was born April 9, 1921 in Jackson County near Graceville, Florida, on her grandparents' farm, to William Leonard Homer Cain and Lillie Mae Golden. The family moved often during the Depression and eventually settled in Chipley, Florida. Olene graduated from Jackson County High School in Chipley, Florida in 1938 as valedictorian. Following graduation she worked as an office clerk in a seed company, on a chicken farm, in a tax assessor's office, as a waitress in the local diner (she said that lasted a whole week), as a store clerk in Woolworth's, and as an attendant for her father's gas station. Her dream came true when she left home to take the train to Rome, Georgia to attend Berry College. She was the first in her family to attend college which would have not been possible without her father's encouragement and support. She worked for her tuition and room and board as a laborer in the kitchen, the laundry, the library, the cannery, and one summer as a bookkeeper for a Panama City shipyard. Olene graduated in 1944 with a degree in Business Administration. The Berry College Log Cabin Yearbook described her well: "Voted Best Natured" and "She has a mind of her own, and knows how to use it." She claimed this experience truly changed her life.

She nearly joined the Air Force but a job offer came through that brought her to Tampa, Florida. There she met and married Simeon Gordon Dowell on February 4, 1945, at Riverside Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida. After Gordon was discharged from the Air Force, they moved to his hometown of Clearfield, Iowa, with their newborn son. Olene taught high school business subjects in Clearfield, IA 1947-48 but didn't like being away from her toddler and consequently gave the next 31 years being a homemaker, raising six children to be "good citizens" - Dennis, Diana, Marilyn, Janet, Norma and Philip. As the family grew and jobs changed, the family moved from Clearfield to Adel and then, in 1962, settled in Ames, Iowa.

In Ames she was active at First Christian Church leading, teaching, participating in nearly every group that was available to her. Olene was the first woman at First Christian Church to accept the positions of Elder and Board Chair in the 1970's, but the one position she felt most suited for was that of Treasurer. She was elected for multiple terms because of her competence and passion for preciseness and completeness. After her children were grown, she worked at the job she enjoyed most in her life as an Account Clerk in Parks Library at ISU. She began there in 1979 and retired in 1992.

During retirement she nearly lost her life to illness but emerged out of an extended stay in the hospital determined to offer what she could to others. She became known as "The Quilt Lady" making over 1200 lap quilts and 750 crocheted blankets which she donated to churches, the Linus Blanket Project, the Emergency Residence Project, the West Point Care Center in West Point, IA (she was known as Santa's Mom), prison ministries and whoever might need a "warm hug." In her later years, she scheduled every day to include crossword and Sudoku puzzles, card playing (if not bridge, then solitaire), quilting, crocheting, reading of all genres (preferring mystery), lunching with friends and watching court drama TV shows and classic movies. And one of her favorite activities, up until the day she died, was hosting a weekly lunch in her home around the huge family table every Sunday. "I'll provide the space if you all bring the food…and clean up afterwards." There was always room for one more.

Olene died on September 19, 2017, at the Israel Family Hospice House in Ames after 96 ˝ years of living fully, talking, smiling and singing with her family until her final breaths. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Gordon, sisters Dorothy McDaniel and Evelyn Boyd, an infant brother, brothers Elmer, Elton and Norman Cain, grandson Benjamin Lott, son-in-law Steven Madsen and daughter-in-law Kathy Kriegler.

Survivors include her children: Dennis & Sue Dowell of Fort Madison, IA; Diana Madsen of Ames, IA; Marilyn & Dan Settle of Clear Lake, IA, and Peoria, Arizona; Janet & John Lott of Ames, IA; Norma Dowell of Ames, IA; Philip & Nora Dowell of Laguna Niguel, CA; her grandchildren: Rick Dowell, Rebecca Madsen, Pamela Madsen, David Madsen, Karen & Jon Quigley, Kevin & Jenn Lee, Elizabeth & Lucas Lott Mussman, Aaron Lott & Urtzi Fernandez, Jordan Kriegler, Samuel Dowell, William Dowell; and her great-grandchildren: Jacob Quigley, Joshua Quigley, and Lincoln Lee.

A memorial service will be held in spring 2018 at First Christian Church, Ames, Iowa, date and time to be announced at a later date. Stevens Memorial Chapel of Ames, Iowa, is handling the arrangements. To honor Olene's memory, donations may be made to First Christian Church, Ames, IA, or the Linus Blanket Project … or wear something blue and show kindness to everyone you meet.


Story Obituaries maintained by Mark Christian.
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