|Raymond Fowler, Sr., and second wife Mary|
Raymond joined the Navy when he old enough to enlist. He came home to Austin on leave, and somewhere along the way he met and married Priscilla Douthit of Lorain, Ohio. They apparently got married after he got out of service. We met Priscilla one time after they got married, and as a kid myself, I remember her being pretty and friendly. Raymond's sisters and brothers liked her a lot. The young couple returned to Ohio, where they started their family.
Their first child was Raymond Fowler, Jr., born March 7, 1947. Five more children followed: Sandra, Leora, Jerome, Wayne and Freddie, the baby of the family. Tragedy struck the family with the death of Priscilla. She died during or after the birth of her last child, Freddie, in 1954. Raymond informed us that she had an enlarged heart. He was devastated after her death but the had to keep going for the sake of his children.
Still a young man, 31, Raymond was now responsible for raising six children alone. He did the best he could but he eventually he had to call on his mother, Leora, to help. He had to work and it was difficult to find a babysitter.
The arrangement he made with Leora was temporary. She was keep the children until Raymond was better situated in Ohio. Because Leora was not willing uproot her life in Austin to resettle in Ohio, Raymond agreed to bring his children to Texas. Freddie, who suffered from asthma, was a sickly baby. His frail body was constantly racked by colds and congestion, causing him to need around the clock attention, both personal and medical. He was about four months old when they moved to Texas.
The children stayed with "Big Mama" for a number of years. They lived on Thompson Street, in the Booker T. Washington Projects until they moved back to Ohio. According to my records all of the children, except Freddie, were enrolled in elementary school.
Raymond got married to a nurse, Mary, and he returned to Austin for his children. In addition to his children, he was now the stepfather to Mary's children, increasing the size of his family. After their marriage Raymond occasionally visited Austin. He looked forward to eating Gertrude's homemade biscuit, fried pan sausage, served with butter, syrup and hot coffee.
When Mary, his second wife, called to tell us that Raymond had died, Cluck, Gertrude, Marie, Rose Ann and Ernest, Sr. and I traveled to Ohio by car for the funeral. Big Mama caught a plane. Raymond was 54. He died October 31 in Lorain Community Hospital's Coronary Unit after suffering a heart attack at home.
Raymond lived had in Ohio for 39 years, and was employed at the Coke plant in Ohio, Cuyahoga Works, and U. S. Steel Corp., for 33 years, respectively. He belonged to Fairfield Baptist Church, the Buckeye Lodge No. 68 F and AM l Consistory No. 15 of Cleveland, El Hasa Temple No. 28 of Cleveland and the Lorain-Elyria Oberlin Shrine Club.
Raymond Fowler, Sr., left behind by his wife Mary, seven sons: Raymond, Jr., Wayne, Jerome, a Dwayne Fowler and Carl Jeans, all of Lorain, Freddie Fowler of Key West, FL and PFC Bruce Fowler with the U.S. Army in Kansas; four daughters Sandra, Leora, and Lynnette Fowler, of Lorain, and Constance Jeans of Washington D. C.; his mother Leora Fowler Sterling of Austin, two brothers Mike Fowler of Los Angeles; Johnny Mose Fowler, and sister Gertrude Fowler Smith, both of Austin, Texas; 13 grandchildren and a host of friends and relatives.
Funeral service was held Friday at 1PM at Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Lorain. Rev. William C. Bacon, officiated. Burial was at Elmwood Cemetery, Lorain, Ohio.
Replica of funeral program
Raymond E. Fowler, Sr.