Obituary: Virginia Lee Sowder Nov. 5, 2015

Virginia Lee Sowder passed away peacefully on November 5, 2015, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. 
She was born in 1923 to Lee and Newell (Kendall) Wood in Clarendon, Texas, a community of independent and self-reliant farmers stoic and taciturn yet with a quirky sense of humor—traits that Virginia kept her entire life. 
An only child, she grew up loving the land, spending time between chores playing hide-and-seek in the cornfield with her pet pig, swimming in the earthen stock tanks with her cousins, running in the fields with her dog. To survive the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, her father found work as a trucker, and the family moved to New Mexico, living in Albuquerque and San Ysidro, and then back to Texas. 
She met Elmer J. Sowder at Amarillo High School. They married in 1945 after Elmer was discharged from the Marines. They had identical twins in 1948 and fraternal twins in 1953, and the family moved from College Station, Texas, to Las Vegas, Nevada.
In 1958, the family moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico. Virginia loved her new town, and she loved the house that she and Elmer built on Barranca Mesa in the early 1960s. A person of strong faith, she remained a devoted member of the First United Methodist Church throughout her life.
She was active in the United Methodist Women (UMW) and acted as president for both the local and the district units and as conference secretary for New Mexico Conference UMW. She traveled extensively to attend conferences and retreats, including the School of Christian Mission at Sacramento Methodist Assembly near Cloudcroft. As a member of Martha’s Circle, she was an active supporter of McCurdy School in Española. She is still remembered with deep affection as a gracious, hard-working, successful leader.
Virginia loved her dogs and cats, the wildlife in her forested back yard, and the birds that flocked to her many feeders. An expert seamstress, she often worked long into the night creating beautiful clothes for her family. She loved singing, playing the piano, caring for her home and family, reading, and writing poetry.
She loved walking, especially in the Fall at Camp May, when yellow-gold Aspen leaves rustled quietly in the breeze under the warm sun and brilliant blue New Mexico sky. She enjoyed long car trips with friends, refinishing furniture, building rock gardens. She believed in Jesus and the power of prayer. She shared her faith and comforted her friends. Her smile and generous spirit were a joy to all.
She is survived by daughters Carol Mark, Cheryl Sowder, and Kay Franklin, and by son Kerry Sowder; by sons-in-law Graham Mark and Joseph Brophy; by nine grandchildren; and by eleven great-grandchildren. She was loved, and she will be greatly missed by family and friends.
A memorial service will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 22, 2015, at First United Methodist Church in Los Alamos. Suggested memorials in Virginia’s honor are gifts to your church or to your favorite charity. Or please consider taking the time to picnic with your family, to shovel snow for your neighbors, to be grateful for each and every day.