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"Amazing" Grace Bowles still playing the piano

By: Steve Hensley Email
By: Steve Hensley Email

On most Sundays you can still find 92 year old Grace Bowles behind the piano at Lothair Baptist Church in Hazard.

She was born in Leslie County in 1919 and started playing at the church when she was 22, 70 years ago!

Grace says she still enjoys playing whether at church or at home.

"I play when I'm sad and I play when I'm glad. It's just an outlet or something, I just like to play," said Bowles.

Grace started playing as a teenager, but that's just one part of her amazing story.

During World War II, she served in the Navy as a WAVE, or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.

She spent most of her 19 months in the military in Salt Lake City at an inland supply depot.

"We would equip five ships with everything they needed, hoping that one of them could get through. It was a hard time during war time," said Bowles.

While she was in the Navy, she married Fred Bowles, her husband of 62 years who died in 2006. They had four children. Grace now has nine great-grandchildren.

Generations of kids that grew up in Lothair also know Grace from the decades she worked with her brother, Herman Maggard and his wife Imogene, at their small country store.

"Anything you wanted, you could get at this store and there weren't many stores like that," Bowles told us in a 2007 interview.

Before it was a store, it was a movie theatre. Grace remembers seeing her first movie there. They were silent pictures in those days.

The store closed in early 2007, a few years after Herman died.

"It was just a pleasure working with him. I think as long as we worked together i don't think we ever had any words at all," Bowles told us.

Grace gives some credit for her long life to good genes. Several family members have lived well into their 90's. But she told me several times that she's ready to go when the Lord wants her.

"I'm a little bit anxious sometimes. I've got so many relatives, my parents. I feel like all of them are in heaven already just waiting, so it will be a joyful thing when I can get there too," Bowles said.

Grace will be 93 next month.

She is planning on attending Saturday's first Lothair Grade School reunion at the old Maggard's Store building, where she worked for so many years.


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