Ethel M. Bowens will be 110 years old on Aug. 26, which makes her both the oldest living woman and the only supercentenarian in Oklahoma. An individual is considered a centenarian after they turn 100 and a supercentenarian after they turn 110; Ethel will have achieved both distinctions. To celebrate, her family is coming in from all over the country to attend a birthday dinner at American Legion on Aug. 24.
At the birthday dinner, Mayor Gentling will present Bowens with a proclamation and a special gift from Gov. Kevin Stitt. Centenarians of Oklahoma is also bestowing an honor upon Bowens and she will join the national registry for supercentenarians.
Bowens was born in Seward but has lived in Guthrie for 109 years and raised all six of her children here with her husband of 64 years, Volna Bowens, who passed away on March 18, 1989. Ethel and Volna were joined in holy matrimony on May 3, 1925 and married for 17 years before having their first child together. Ethel was 43 years old when she gave birth to their identical twin daughters and she was in such a state of shock—she forgot to give them middle names.
“We got started and couldn’t shut it down,” Bowens said.
Ethel attributes having children later in life as one of the keys to longevity and also cited having one man, no smoking or drinking and having faith in God as the other keys to longevity.
“We were sweethearts for a long time...I’ve always raised good kids,” Bowens said.
The Bowens also have 29 grandchildren, 54 great-grandchildren and 45 and counting great-great-grandchildren.
While Ethel worked in the home, she not only sewed the clothes for her children but was an incredible cook who prepared three meals a day for the family, which was no easy feat. Ethel worked extremely hard to provide for her family and caught almost all of what she cooked. She loved to go fishing and knew her way around a rifle.
“I had everything on the farm. Chickens, guineas, turkeys. I had plenty to do, more than I needed to do,” Bowens said.
Volna also worked on the farm, in addition to the County Commissioner’s office alongside Leo Chappell, and driving a school bus for Meridian schools.
“He drove the bus longer than anybody because he made them obey,” Bowens said.
Ethel took a lot of pride in their garden, canning food for the family and making jelly. Ethel won a blue ribbon at the Logan County Fair for her jelly, canned pears and peaches.
Ethel lived on her own until 2009 and has been a resident of Golden Age Nursing home since 2016. Ethel still gives sage advice, has a great sense of humor and is looking forward to her upcoming birthday dinner with her family and closest friends.
“I’m made out of good stuff,” Bowens said.