Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | February 24, 2014

Sad Duty

Memento in lieu of church bullet for Katherine's burial ceremony.  This the front side.

Memento in lieu of church bulletin for Katherine’s burial ceremony.                                  This the front side.

Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden

Sep 29th, 1948 to Dec 9th, 2013

Burial Ceremony, February 21st, 2014

We had the burial ceremony for my wife, Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden, at Ft Myer, VA.  After the chapel ceremony we went to the grave site in Arlington National Cemetery for a short ceremony.  The Soldiers of the Old Guard, 3rd Infantry, were magnificent.  The bagpiper played hauntingly at the grave site.   Army Chaplain Jenks and our former pastor, Dr. John Snow, spoke the Gospel message.directly and eloquently.

I am grateful beyond measure and humbled into muteness  for all the family and friends who took the time, some who traveled so far, to be there.   Thank you, bless you,  thank you.

My daughter, Maggie Kyle Buchanan, gave this eulogy:

My mom’s mom Bonnie, for whom my own Bonnie is named, passed away in December of 1985.  I was one. My beloved mom passed away in December of 2013 when my Bonnie was one. My mom once told me the winter her mom died was the darkest and coldest she had ever known. I can understand that now all too well. I take comfort, though, in the knowledge that Bonnie will know my mom – her sweet ‘Ganma’ – through the legacy Momma leaves behind.

That is a legacy of amazing, selfless love – the kind of love for others that shakes one to the core and inspires them to be a better person. The kind of love that shapes lives and changes entire communities. To know my mom was to know love.

Her impact was – and still is – far reaching and immeasurable. She was the silent classroom mom paying for fieldtrips so no child was left at home. She was the friend showing up day and night to pray for the lost and soothe the hurting. She was the guidance counselor encouraging students to be kind to one another and providing a safe harbor for innocent children caught in the roughest of storms.

She was the mom calming her children’s fears and cheering their victories, from the day they were born until the day she passed. She was the steadfast grandmother holding her new grandbaby through the night in the NICU spending every second praying for health and God’s blessing. She was the wife of almost forty years adoring and supporting her husband, still always reaching to hold his hand.

She was the stranger inviting the friendless to her home for Thanksgiving. She was love incarnate, especially for those who had no one else to love them. And she did all this no matter the personal cost – no matter how tired she was or her own personal struggles at the time. If you were with her you felt as if you were the only thing in the world that mattered; her love selflessly focused only on you.

As a family, we have seen her love in action our entire lives. But the loss of my sweet momma is not just a loss for the Bowden and Kyle family. It is a loss for an entire community that she loved and served. Since her passing we have heard story after story after story of how she loved those around her. Time and again, we heard that she was a Godsend, a shining light, a lifesaver – descriptions certainly not thrown around lightly, but repeatedly with heartfelt earnest. Her selfless love was a model of Christ’s love and will stay with those she touched their entire lives. We are all better having known her and been loved so selflessly by her.

My daughter, Molly Osyf, gave this eulogy:

Two minutes falls deeply short of a just time allotment to describe my mother. But, as she would say with a tilted head and grin on her beautiful face, “that’s the Army.”

Maggie spoke how mom loved selflessly. While mom loved selflessly her whole life, it was never a passive love. There was a ferocity that can only be likened to a mother bear. The pendulum swings both ways and as tender and loving as she was with all of us, so was she as fierce in her protectiveness and devotion to perseverance.

There are countless stories of mom sticking up for her people, friends and family alike, many times without our knowledge. If you knew her and were blessed to experience her love, she would fight for you to the ends of the Earth, as many Mt. Vernon babies can testify. You never had any question whose corner mom was in and I would feel sorry for the person on the opposite side.

Her ferocity wasn’t just about protecting us, but about encouraging each and every one of us to be the best person we could be. We fell and she told us to get up. It was always with a kind voice and there was no mistake of her love, but there was no coddling.

Mom was tough and she modeled a legacy of strength to us all. Mom would have and did anything for us her entire life. She was the first phone call we made when times were good and when times were bad. Most of you know that mom was blessed with her first three grandbabies in 13 months and with a son in law often deployed. She loved us ferociously. I often felt she was the steel rod supporting my spine.

She was ferocious in telling me that being a good mama to these babies was my number one job in life. She was ferocious in how she loved these babies, for whom she sacrificed and in her words, “lived for.”  Regardless of circumstance, strife or conflict my mother chose love always. She gave it freely without expectance of reciprocity. She gave it joyfully and passionately and it seemed electric at times being in her presence. She gave it forsaking her own needs many a time. She was ferocious.

I gave this eulogy for my wife:

Thank you for honoring Katherine and loving us – with your presence here.

The Lord giveth and Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Molly said Katherine loved ferociously. Maggie said Katherine loved selflessly.

Katherine loved passionately.

Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love God with all of your heart, mind, strength and soul and love others as you love yourself.

Katherine loved God passionately. She read the Bible with a fire to understand. She prayed her prayer lists with enthusiastic conviction. She sparkled – singing praise songs and old country gospel. She had an exquisite discernment for God’s purpose for others.

Katherine loved others passionately. She loved you. Her gift was to carry the hurts and happiness of others as her own. This Christ-like caring was her ministry. Children thrived with her. Adults cherished her.

You heard it in her voice when she called you, “Honey.” You saw it in her eyes. Oh, those brown eyes! Her crooked smile. You felt her love, her warmth, her lovingkindness.

Katherine loved her children and grandchildren super passionately.

She loved “us” – me – passionately. Yet, she didn’t like her given name – Nellie – so I loved it because it was hers alone.

These words from the Songs of Solomon are us.  “We rejoiced and delighted in each other. How beautiful you are my darling. Your eyes are like doves. My beloved is mine and I am hers.”

Nellie wasn’t afraid to die. She wanted to live. She lives, butnot here. Her love still lives here with you. Love Katherine byloving God. Love others as you love yourself. Love ferociously. Love selflessly. Love passionately.

I love you, darlin’ darlin’ Nellie.

All of us did our sad duty.  None of us broke down doing it.  I could barely get out my last words, stepped down from the lectern, touched her casket and went to my seat.  I cried there as Pastor Snow gave the homily. 

There is more to say about Nellie’s burial events, but not now.   Just a quick, heartfelt thank you for all that daughter Maggie did to make it all happen.   Thank you, Kathy Guild, for the wonderful video you put together for after the burial.

Family burial is sad duty.  Wife burial is awful duty.  In some respects, now, living seems sad duty too. The Bible promises grieving through the night and laughter in the morning.   I believe it.

Back side of memento.  Memento was designed by Maggie Kyle Buchanan

Back side of memento. Memento was designed by Maggie Kyle Buchanan



  1. Much love and strength to your entire family. Blessings.

  2. Thank you very much.

  3. […] […]

  4. What a lovely tribute! Katherine was an unequivocal mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, teacher and friend. She was loved and cherished by all who knew her and will live on in our hearts and memories forever.

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