Feb. 5, 1922 – Sept. 10, 2020
Local Homer resident, Theodora Bowden (ne’e Confer) passed away in her sleep on the morning of Sept. 10, 2020.
At 98, Teddy was preceded in death by her first husband, Carey Daniel Stroup, her sons, William Carey Stroup and David Grant Stroup, her grandson, Alexander Scott Stroup, her step-great-grandson Knute Rockney, and spouses Vic Miller and James Bowden. Teddy is survived by her daughter, Kathleen Stroup, her stepson Daniel V. Miller, her grandson William Clayton Stroup, granddaughter Dayle Anne Stroup, her great-granddaughters Lauren, Jessica, Tabitha and Sabrina Stroup, her great-grandsons Jacob, Michael and Joseph Stroup, and her great-great granddaughter Evangeline Marie Ausborn.
Teddy was born Feb. 5, 1922, in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. In 1928, at the age of six, she moved with her mother and father to Venice, Florida where they lived on land granted to the family by the railroad. There Teddy helped her father raise chickens and trap furs in the Everglades. In 1931 the family moved back to Northern Indiana to begin their farm. Surrounded by acres of various fruit trees, beautiful flowers her mother grew, and giant oaks and maples, Teddy thrived and grew. At the precocious age of 15, she met Carey Daniel Stroup who came to work the farm alongside her father, and decided right then that she was going to marry him. On December 27, 1940, that was exactly what she did, and went with him to his home in Brethren, Michigan to work the Stroup family’s lumber business. Shortly following that, Carey was drafted, and Teddy found married life to include driving to New York to see him ship out to England to join American forces of WWII.
While he was away, fighting with Patton overseas, Teddy learned to fly with the intention of joining the Women’s Army Air Corps (WACs). But to her great disappointment, they said that at 5-feet, 1-1/2 inches, she was just 1/2 inch too short to fly for them. Upon Carey’s return in 1946, they settled down to build their family, and their first son, William Carey (Bic) was born. In 1949, they welcomed a second son, David Grant (Grant), followed in 1952 by their last child, a girl Teddy’s father named Kathleen (Kat).
By this time, Carey was moving up in his career as a mechanical engineer, and in 1957 they moved to Crooked Lake near Columbia City, Indiana and bought a house. For the next few years they filled their lives with raising children and Samoyeds. Teddy was very active in the Samoyed Club of America, with a room full of ribbons and trophies to show for it. In addition to the usual things housewives did in the 1950s, Teddy also joined Carey and her parents on deer hunting trips in Pennsylvania and Brethren, which soon evolved into camping trips with the kids, as the kids got big enough. The family, organized and cared for by Teddy, began a routine of pulling up stakes as soon as school let out in the Spring, and set up outdoor housekeeping in an old abandoned logging camp on the Manistee River in Central Michigan. With a cabin tent and a 14-foot aluminum rowboat, summers on the river became a second home for the Stroup family for many years. Life on the river would end in the fall, a couple of weeks before school began. Teddy had always been an outdoors kind of woman… a “tomboy”, she called herself… and she taught her kids to appreciate nature and learn about the wildlife around them. When one of them would bring some strange animal home, typically a snake or salamander, instead of screaming to get that thing away from her, she got out the books that were always handy and encouraged them to read about what it was, what it ate, how it lived, etc.
On weekends, Carey was free from work to drive the 4 hour trip to “The Point,” as they called their camp. All together again, they did things like learn to swim, take overnight boat trips of discovery upriver, and clear miles of trails throughout the area that deer still make use of to this day. Teddy unflaggingly cooked two meals a day over a campfire, rain or shine, washed clothes on a big rock at the edge of the river, and saw to it that each of the kids got a bath at day’s end before climbing into their sleeping bag. She kept them healthy, happy and safe, and always kept a loaded .45 next to her sleeping bag.
As sometimes happens, there developed problems later in their marriage that couldn’t be solved, and in 1966, after 26 years together, Teddy and Carey parted ways. He stayed in Indiana where he was Vice President at his job, and she packed up a U-Haul and left for Big Pine Key, Florida to start over. Her life in the Florida Keys soon included scuba diving on the coral reef and diving for shipwreck treasure. That later led to life in Poway and Oxnard in California, Bend in Oregon, and Las Vegas, where she played Black Jack for a living for 2 years. Finally in 1983, she and Kat drove north to join Bic and Grant in Homer, Alaska, where she happily lived until she died.
Teddy was an avid outdoor adventurer, a hunter, pilot, real estate agent, interior decorator, dog breeder, scuba diver, dowser, traveler, fisherman, story teller, mother, and a truly exceptional person. The things Teddy did and saw in her 98 years would rival many adventurers today. She safely landed a stalled plane in a wheat field, brought up Spanish cannonballs and shark’s teeth in the Gulf of Mexico, and she rarely let an icy parking lot pass without spinning a donut or two with the car. Her friends and family knew she never took a curve on four wheels when two would do! Teddy lived her life boldly and honestly, believing herself to be 8 feet tall and indestructible. She was one heck of a lady who lived a heluva life!
A GoFundMe page has been set up at https://www.gofundme.com/f/teddy-bowden-final-expenses to help ease the burden of final expenses.