August 24, 1929 – July 26, 2019
Rosemary Fannie Bowler, 89, until recently a resident of Boca Grande, Florida, passed away on July
26, 2019 after a brief illness. She is survived by her sister, Eleanor Bowler Craveiro, brother-in-law,
Donald Craveiro, several nieces and nephews, and many, many friends whom she considered family.
Rosemary was born at St. Luke’s Hospital, New Bedford, Massachusetts on August 24, 1929 and
raised on Acushnet Avenue by her parents Arthur Frederick and Fannie Horr McVay Bowler. She was
predeceased by her sister Jane Trimble, her brother Arthur Bowler, Jr, and her nieces Marcia Spencer
and Laurie Brunette.
After graduating from New Bedford High School in 1947, Rosemary matriculated at Wilson College in
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Throughout her life as both student and teacher, Rosemary's focus was
on education. She earned a master's degree in administration and curriculum supervision from Teachers
College at Columbia University and a PhD at Boston College in the history and philosophy of education.
Rosemary shared her love of children and education as a teacher and principal at many schools,
including Belmont, Provincetown, and Orleans, Massachusetts. Later in her career Rosemary shared her
expertise as an educator even more broadly as the Executive Director of the International Dyslexia
Association and managing editor of Annals of Dyslexia. She was Executive Editor of the Learning
Disabilities Network's semi-annual publication, Network Exchange. Based on her interest in bright
children who have language learning problems, she and a colleague co-authored the book, Learning to
Learn, winner of the Margot Merek Book Award in 1998. The book has sold over 40,000 copies and is
widely used in teacher training programs.
Travel was a big part of Rosemary’s life, beginning in the early 1950s when she and several college
friends traveled around Europe on bicycles. Rosemary delighted in wryly telling about a group of young
men who asked the girls who their chaperone was on that trip. Anyone who knew Rosemary and her
group knew that they were well ahead of their time as far as requiring chaperones.
Age was no excuse for Rosemary to curtail her world adventures. She traveled with her
grand-nephew, Andrew Fone, and close friends Pat Chapman, Jerri DeKriek and Bill and Linda Fleit to the
Great Wall of China and the ancient temples of Southeast Asia. She witnessed the sunrise over Angkor
Wat in Cambodia and cruised down the mighty Mekong River. New experiences delighted her and she
often recounted riding on a motorcycle for the first time in Vietnam when she was eighty-six years old.
For years, she remained convinced that the driver still had bruised ribs because she held onto him so
As recently as two years ago, she enjoyed a trip through India and marveled at the country's vibrancy,
though not so much the food. She was content to sit and observe her surroundings, saying it took her
several weeks, if not months, to process all she had seen. She often remarked that no matter where you
go in the world, people are ultimately all the same and share the same dreams and aspirations.
She often visited her dear college friend, Dora Squatriti, who had moved to Italy after marrying an
Italian. Some of Rosemary's fondest memories were times spent in Rome and Umbria with the
Squatrities, whom she considered her extended family. She delighted in a glass of red wine from their
vineyards, which she declared "delicious--and the perfect way to end the day." Her passport was filled
with stamps from almost every European country as well as Africa and Asia. She especially loved
England; one of her favorite trips there was on the Queen Mary with her nieces Marcia Spencer and
Jessica Trimble and grand-niece, Jessica Fone. Ready to travel by any means, she enjoyed road trips
throughout the U.S. and European riverboat cruises with her nieces and nephew David Trimble. She
loved the beauty and serenity of the Northwest and formerly owned a cabin in Montana.
Last minute adventures didn't deter her. On a late Friday night in Boca Grande, she received a call
inviting her see an event in Pennsylvania featuring the Dalai Lama. Within a few hours, she was on her
Rosemary discovered Boca Grande purely by accident when she won a free trip to the island. She
loved it right away and soon made it her full time home.
Rosemary immediately became an active member of the community center and Friends of Boca
Grande. She was a loyal member of the Literature Forum, appearing as an audience member and
presenter offering astute comments and insights into all things literary. She co-founded the Sleuths, a
group for fans of mystery and detective stories. She loved the genre and led the group with first-rate
analysis of the writing, characters and settings to discover what was "afoot." Her droll sense of humor
and academic research abilities provoked discussion and confirmed that the detective/mystery genre
was a high art form. At the time of her death, she was writing a book on the history and development of
the detective story.
She was an avid member of the Sunday Morning Breakfast Club, that evolved from Ro's love of
reading the NYT at the former Loons on a Limb restaurant. She was a beloved member of the Boca
Grande Book Club (renamed "The Talking Heads") for over twenty-five years.
She was kind and gentle, as well as strong and outspoken when she saw injustice. She loved her
friends and family and they loved her. Many of her good friends came to visit her during her last weeks
of life when she lived as a cherished guest at Marta Howell and Greg Walker’s home. They opened their
home and gave her love, comfort and companionship beyond what anyone could be blessed to receive.
Almost until the end, she loved to raise a glass for a few sips of white wine and enjoy some cheese and
crackers with her visitors, especially with her long-standing friends, Jerri DeKriek, Bill and Linda Fleit,
who—to quote some last words written by Rosemary before she died—"I have known since my days as
principal 50 years ago and who have followed me from Massachusetts to Florida"; her Boca Grande
friend, Pat Chapman who "introduced me to the world of horse racing and the Kentucky Derby…and so
much fun we shared. "
On her ever present iPad, she wrote, “special love and thanks to Marta Howell whom I saw as a family
member and friend and also to Joy Wyman who has been by my side all these years—a person I saw as a
daughter and friend who helped me throughout the years to make my life comfortable and special."
Memorial Services are planned on Cape Cod this fall and in Boca Grande this winter. If desired,
memorial gifts may be made in Rosemary’s memory to a charity of one’s choice.