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Vernelle Gailey Rowbury - Life Sketch by Angie Marek

Edwin C. Rowbury and Vernelle Gailey Rowbury
Circa 1960s

Vernelle was born prematurely along with her twin sister, Maedelle, on September 25, 1924. The twins weighed 2 and 2 ½ pounds. Their first cradles were shoe boxes. They were kept alive by being fed warm buttermilk. The twins were very lucky to have lived through that first winter. Our lives would have been very different had we not had Vernelle.

Her twin and her younger sister tell of their mischievous youth. One story that stands out in the minds of Vernelle’s family is when the three of them set the cotton bales on fire! While playing in the cotton fields, the sisters discovered some grapevines and mysteriously produced some matches. The results were disaster! Needless to say they all got a good scolding and a spanking.

As most identical twins will, Vernelle and Maedelle often passed as one another. Especially in their teenage years, swapping dates and discipline. By the way, when they would call you they sound exactly the same of the phone.

Vernelle’s first marriage was to Leon Richards. Together they produced four children, a son and three daughters. She and Leon were divorced in 1954.

Vernelle’s second marriage was to Edwin Rowbury. The years she spent with Eddie were some of her happiest and their travels produced memories long cherished. Vernelle never met a stranger, and she eagerly shared her stories with all who would listen.

When my father, Bud, was ill and recuperating from a stroke he lived with Ed and Vernelle. They would play endless hours of cards. Vernelle loved cards whether it was solitaire, poker or rummy. She even taught Barbara to gamble, although, I think she must have skipped a few lessons. Vernelle and my Grandpa Jack always had a running bet on the Cowboys games. They would just mail their dollars back and forth. By the way Grandpa, if you still owe her money she won’t forget!

Vernelle always had her nails painted. And just like today they were usually bright red. She also never left home without her earrings. She took good care of herself and wanted to look her best when she left home.

Two of my fondest memories of Vernelle are:

  • One summer Grandpa, Grandma, Barbara and I went on vacation to Altus, Oklahoma, to visit Ed and Vernelle. Upon our arrival we discovered that the increasing winds that had been following us were three tornadoes following us in. Vernelle just took it all in stride, taking Barb and I outside to see the funnels while I think my Grandma was having a nervous breakdown in the hallway.

  • When Vernelle was in Madigan Army Hospital in Tacoma having tests, we would pick her up on weekends and bring her home to stay with us. At first they didn’t want to let her out but after she ran around calling them a bunch of gravel agitators and asking her male nurse, “What’s wrong, aren’t you good enough to be a doctor?” they were happy to check her out to us. However, when all her tests were complete they were sorry to see her go. They said she kept them hopping and their lives interesting.

One of Vernells’s trips after Eddie passed away was a cruise with Barbara. Being as mischievous as she was, one night while they were returning to their cabin around 12:30 a.m. Vernelle ran down the hall knocking on doors which would open about the time Barbara walked by.

After Eddie died, Vernelle remained in their beloved Idaho, until such time as she made the choice to live near her family in Texas, in 1992. As she expressed in July while visiting, her sincere wish was to return to Idaho to live beside Eddie. Vernelle was very special to us all.

We bring her home today to be with Eddie and wish her the peace she deserves.

Life sketch written by and given at graveside service
by Angie Cornia Marek, niece of Eddie and Vernelle Rowbury, on August 27, 1998.

Vernelle Gailey Richards Rowbury was my mother. Her actual birth year was 1921. Since she didn't want everyone to know she was seven years older than Eddie, she preferred to "tell everyone" she was born in 1924, closing the gap just a little. Thus she had her headstone engraved with 1924 after Eddie's death. Her twin sister, Maedelle Gailey Carlyle, nearly had a “fit” when she saw a photograph of it. Guess this is further proof that we can't always believe everything we read on headstones! -- Judy Shubert


tipper said…
What a lovely post! I would have loved to have known her-what fun she had!
She did indeed have a lot of fun! She was able to visit a lot of places and see a lot of things and she really never met a stranger. We all miss her.

Thanks, Tipper.

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