A private memorial service for Viola Bowser will be held outside at 10 a.m. Saturday Oct. 9th at the William N. Rupert Mortuary, Inc, 430 Mendenhall Avenue, Knox.
“Vi” was born Viola Theresa Caligiuri on July 22, 1917 in Warren, PA.
In her younger years, she grew up helping to cook and serve at their family business, Caligiuri’s Rest, in West Hickory, PA. Both her mother, Bertha (Gertsch) from Switzerland, and her father, Forton, from Italy, were excellent cooks and passed down recipes from their homelands. The restaurant was just over the one-lane bridge and a favorite among the local hunters.
She married Howard Montclair “Mont” Chapman in 1938. They owned and operated the Ford Dealership in Knox, PA until shortly after his death in 1959. In 1962, Vi married Harold R. “Bud” Bowser and they moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 1967.
Living the true coastal life, Vi and Bud had several boats and many adventures. She became quite the first mate, proficient at reading navigation charts, learning marine regulations, and operating ship-to-shore communications. They enjoyed many summers exploring the southeast and entertaining guests on their boat. Bud ran a successful trucking company and Vi had her own ceramics shop for a bit before turning her artistic passion to china painting. She won many awards for her work over the years and held an annual seminar at her home for decades. She also was a prolific needlecrafter. Vi hand-knitted sweaters and personalized stockings for the entire family, hooked rugs, needlepointed, hand-quilted many bedspreads, and dabbled in smocking, tatting, and macramé.
As a young woman, she loved to bowl and once bowled a perfect 300 game! She was an avid gardener and had several topiaries in her yard. She was also a huge advocate of education and was instrumental in founding the Knox Library.
In her later years, Vi lived with her son, Monty, celebrating her 100th birthday with a big celebration of family and friends. Her great-grandaughter, McKenzie, helped care for her for the last 6 years of her life. Despite being mostly immobile, “Grams” and Kenzie made their own adventures daily. They dressed-up, carved pumpkins, painted, did one another’s hair and make-up, but most importantly…loved and laughed a lot.
Vi died peacefully at home on April 21, 2021, just shy of her 104th birthday. Her creativity, spunk, and wit will be dearly missed.
Vi is survived by her son, Monty Chapman of Jacksonville, FL, her sister, Mary Remington of Charlotte, MI, stepchildren Harold R. “Buddy” Bowser (Debra), Leslee Burch (Bob), Michele Carroll, Nina Rowan (Rex); grandchildren Monty Chapman, Jr. (Shelly), Brig Kimes, Jessica Reed (Mark), Bill Chapman (Cindy), Lance Burch (Jessie), Jeff Burch (Bekki), Leslee Carroll, Florence Carroll, Graham Rowan, Sarah Rowan, Jason Harris (Michelle); 14 great-grandchildren and 6 great-great grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her husband Mont Chapman, son William “Bill” Chapman, husband Bud Bowser, stepson Brian Bowser, sister Pauline Norton (Edward), sister Evelyn Murphy (Ginny), and brother Fred Caligiuri (Ann).
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