Betty Jo Bowen

October 28, 1925February 5, 2012

BETTY JO GIVENS BOWEN, most beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, lay down to pleasant dreams February 5. Like many of her generation, the trajectory of her life was changed by World War II which propelled her into the broader world beyond her cherished prairie skies. She was born in the tiny Amish farming community of Yoder, Kansas, to Iilene and Virgil Givens. One of seven children, her worldview was shaped by the Great Depression and the hardworking farming communities in which she grew up. Her family moved to Mount Hope, Kansas when Pete (her childhood nickname) was still in grade school. She became an enthusiastic cheerleader all four years of Mount Hope High School (class of 1943) and made life-long friends there. Even though her family lived modestly, she viewed her childhood as idyllic. In 1946 she married her high school sweetheart Lieutenant Bob Bowen and embarked on an adventurous life in the U.S. Navy. After leaving the Navy, they eventually settled in Houston where Bob worked in the oil and gas industry. Like many women of her time, Betty Jo devoted herself to her husband and children. She sewed her daughters’ dresses and doll clothes, helped with homework, chauffeured children to girl scouts, dance and music lessons, and attended years and years of her son’s little league baseball games. She served as a Girl Scout leader and the most dreaded of all tasks, cookie chairman. Always the effervescent, gregarious cheerleader, she was loving, kind, and generous, and her home was a welcoming place for friends and children. Her children’s memories are filled with her gentle hands, soft cheek, and embracing arms. She was a founding member of Gethsemane United Methodist Church and lived her Christian beliefs. Confronted with the segregationist views of the South in the 1950’s, she taught her children respect for all people. She supported many religious and civic charities and was a thoughtful, helpful friend. Growing up with five brothers engendered her lifetime love of sports. She loved football, baseball, and basketball, and followed both college and professional teams religiously. She knew players, coaches, statistics and plays; and some of her happiest moments were spent in stadiums or in front of multiple TV’s watching games. As a young woman, she played tennis, and was a good diver and gymnast. She learned to snow ski in her 50’s: “Bomber Betty” liked to go straight and fast down the mountain. After her four children were older, Betty Jo and Bob enjoyed many happy years traveling through the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Europe with family and friends. Betty Jo absolutely relished the role of grandmother. She was a master cookie baker (chocolate chip was her specialty) and pie maker. She taught her grandchildren to play cards, appreciate a great lunch, and accessorize with panache. Grandma Betty Jo always took the grandchildren on a special shopping trip for their birthdays. At Christmas time no one decked the halls brighter. She is a survivor of breast cancer (18 years) and ovarian cancer (10 years) with all of the fortitude and courage that the word “survivor” suggests. Last year after being told that radiation and surgery would probably not change the outcome of a newly diagnosed cancer, she serenely decided against treatment and wrapped the drapery of her couch about her. Betty Jo is survived by her beloved husband of 65 years, James Robert (Bob) Bowen; her daughters, Jamie Grossman and husband Joe, Janis Martin and husband Bob, and Jo Ann Scofield and husband Randy; son, James Robert Bowen Jr. and wife Vivian; grandchildren, David and Paul Martin, James Bowen III and wife Sabrina, Jenny Bowen, Amy Curtis and husband Todd, Adam, Brandon, and Elizabeth Grossman, Jim and Rebecca Scofield, and Katie Garza and husband Brent; great-grandchildren, Skyler Reininger, Kinley Martin, and EmilyBowen; sister, Bonnie Tavenner, Wichita, KS; and many nieces and nephews. Her family gives its heartfelt thanks to the doctors and staff at M D Anderson who treated her for many years, and to Houston Hospice who gave her family comfort and guidance.


  • Memorial Service Thursday, February 9, 2012

Betty Jo Bowen

have a memory or condolence to add?


receive updates when new memories are posted


March 5, 2012

Bob, I would really enjoy getting together, either in person or email. My email is and I hope to hear from you in the near future. Thanks, it was great to get your message./

Ed Overbey

February 9, 2012

I first met Betty Jo at the opening reception for Hanger1. We were both abandoned spouses,so I sat down next to her at the bar and we whiled away the evening playing games like, "If you could retire anywhere, where would it be?" She warmed to new friends easily.

February 9, 2012

Bob and all the family I am so sorry for your loss. May you each find strength
from the example your mother exhibited for the days ahead. She left you with many memories and not even death can take that away.

It was impossible for me to attend but my thoughts and prayers are with each of

Love, Lee Autrey

Barbara Blake

February 9, 2012

Uncle Bob and family, I am so sorry to hear Aunt Betty Jo has passed. She was my favorite relative; always so up, happy and brave. She went through a lot in her life, but always managed to laugh about all of it. I talked to her on the phone after Jack died and I could tell she was fading, but still very involed with the family. I hope the family will remember the many good times with her and in time that will help. I know my mom is upset she cannot be there for her service, but I know you understand she cannot travel. We miss Aunt Betty Jo and will keep her and the family in our thoughts and prayers forever. Ted,Barb Blake and Bonnie Tavenner.

February 9, 2012

Bob- Fred and I were heartsick to hear of Betty-Jos' passing. So many years have gone by but we did try to stay in touch. Hers was a long battle but taken with the dignity that only came from Betty-Jo. A lady in every sense of the word. Our hearts are saddened. We will keep you all in our thoughts and prayers. Love to all, Fred and Moe Heise

Patty Thorn Phipps

February 9, 2012

What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful lady! I know all of you will feel her loss very deeply, but how awesome that she left you such a legacy of memories and love and example. Mr. Bowen, my heart goes out to you especially; I wish I could get down there for the service to give you a big hug.

John Connell

February 9, 2012

Wow, I never met your mother, but this was a true mom and wife, sounds just like my mother, would have loved to have met this incredible women, her love of sports and dealing with little league games, reminds me of my childhood, Your mom is now an angel, ready for saint hood!

John & Dale Blackmon

February 9, 2012

It was with great sadness to read of the passing of such a wonderful lady. Dale and I send Bob and family all of our prayers for their loss and peace as they go forward. I worked with Bob for several years in the 80s and knew her from then.

Ann Cook

February 8, 2012

Janis and Bob, I am so sorry to learn of the loss of Janis' mom. I know she must have been so very proud to have Janis as her daughter. God bless the Martin and Bowen families. Ann Cook

Debra Beasley

February 8, 2012

Thank you for sharing your Mothers story with all of us.

I regret not knowing such an awesome soul.

She has left all of you with a wonderful example of how a life should be lived.

I pray that the Lord bring you peace.