OBITUARY: Dorothy Gray Sowell

Dorothy Gray Sowell

Dorothy Gray Sowell, 98, a native of the Santa Fe Community in Maury County, Tennessee, died Wednesday, September 8, 2021 at her daughter’s residence in Culleoka.

Funeral services will be conducted Saturday at 3:00 P.M. at First United Methodist Church with Reverend Tommy Vann, Reverend Lee Stevenson, and Reverend Frank Smith officiating. Burial will follow in Rose Hill Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Friday from 3:00 P.M.-8:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home and Saturday from 2:00 P.M. until service time at the church.

The family suggests memorials to Rose Hill Cemetery, P.O. Box 1015, Columbia, TN 38402. Condolences may be extended online at

Born October 30, 1922, she was the daughter of the late Sam E. and Gertrude Gray Gray. On May 11, 1943, she married Frank F. Sowell in Columbia, Tennessee. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1993. He preceded her in death on November 21, 1997.

She was the mother of four children: Jane Gray “Bunny” Sowell who died October 5, 2015; Tony (Edith Sue Delk) Sowell; Mrs. Louis Harvey (Beth) Fischer; Miss Sammye A. Sowell (Joe Czajka), and enjoyed her grandchildren, Matthew Freeman (Laura Kelley) Sowell, Andrew Delk (Shellie Singleton) Sowell, Meribeth Gray Sowell (Will) Bradley, William Chaffin (Hilary Fry) Fischer, John Louis (Alison McCabe) Fischer, and Samuel Alexander Sowell; great-granddaughters, Ann Sowell, Caroline Sowell, Lexi Sowell, Meg Sowell, Amelia Sowell, Gwynn Sowell, Evelina Gray Fischer; great-grandsons, Will Sowell, Russ Sowell, and Emmett Bradley.

During World War II, Dorothy worked at Helm’s Jewelry and Southern Bell Telephone Company. While working at the telephone office on South Garden Street next to Oakes & Nichols, she met her future husband. After Frank’s induction into the Army Air Corps, she joined Frank at various Air Bases in Florida, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Goldsboro, North Carolina, where he was shipped overseas. She returned to Columbia and continued to work for the duration of the war and was active in the USO.

She was a member of First United Methodist Church and has been an avid gardener and rosarian for many years.

She and Frank traveled extensively overseas and for a number of years enjoyed domestic travel in their motor home. Since his death, she has continued to travel in the United States and abroad.

She was a former member of the Board of Directors and Vice President Emeritus of Oakes & Nichols, Inc., (1969 – 1988). She was a member of the Board of Trustees, Maury Regional Hospital from 1985 to 2004; served as a member, Building and Grounds Committee, Human Resources Committee, Joint Conference Committee; former chairman Joint Conference Committee; former member Advisory Board. Since her retirement as Trustee, she continued to serve the Board in several capacities. She was a Charter Member of the Maury County Hospital Auxiliary, having served 67 years. She held the offices of President, Vice President, Secretary, Chairman of Scholarship, Coffee Shop, and various other committees and other volunteer assignments for over 57 years and currently served as an Ambassador for Maury Regional Medical Center. She was State President, Tennessee Hospital Association Council on Auxiliaries (1984 – 1986); member of Council (1978 – 1986). Dot served as Co-chairman (with Frank) of Maury County Homecoming ’86 (1983 – 1986). Major projects: Maury County Community Band established: HITHER & YON published; co-chaired fundraising for Aquatic Center at Columbia State Community College (over $300,000.00 raised locally). She was Co-chairman, Maury County “TENNESSEE 200” Committee; Member Maury County Chamber of Commerce-former member, Board of Directors; served as Secretary, Treasurer; chaired committee which established Maury County Clean Community System; also served on Tourism Committee; graduate of Leadership Maury (Class of 1990 – 1991); Maury County Election Official for 30 years; President of Rose Hill Endowment Association (1965 – 2005); Member of the James K. Polk Memorial Association Board of Directors, chaired several committees; elected President 1997. She was a member of Maury County Chapter, APTA; Maury County Historical Society; Columbia Chapter, American Field Service; Jane Knox Chapter, DAR; Captain James Madison Sparkman Chapter, UDC; Maury County Rose Society; Cosmopolitan Literary Club; served as a volunteer and avid supporter of the Maury County Archives. Honors: Maury County Bar Association; Liberty Bell Award – 1987 (jointly with Frank); Columbia Civitan Club Maury County Outstanding Citizen – 1988; Maury County March of Dimes Citizen of the Year – 1992 (jointly with Frank); Lucille Queener Courtney Community Service Award – 1996; and most recently in November 2014, was honored by the Tennessee Hospital Association with the 2014 Meritorious Service Award.

Active pallbearers will be Matt Sowell, Andy Sowell, Will Fischer, John Fischer, Alex Sowell, Will Sowell, Will Bradley, Sam Gray, and Woodrow Wilson Horton, Jr. Honorary pallbearers are members of the Maury Regional Medical Center Auxiliary.


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