Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | June 5, 2017

A Celebration of Life for Elizabeth Anne Bowden Buehrer

Her Celebration of Life. She’s alive now and forever – but not here.

My nieces and their husbands did great.  It was perfect for her, my sister, and their families and friends, who she loved with all of her heart.  My other sister and 1 nephew came from Boston.  2 of my 3 kids and 3 of my 5 grandchildren came with me.  It honored and celebrated Babs’  life.   It was “bien fait” and “comme il faut.”

My late sister, Elizabeth Anne Bowden Buehrer, was “Babs” to the world. She was “Bumpy” to us. She earned her name, “Bumpy”, during her terrible twos. She would be so frustrated and angry to not have her toddler way, that she bumped her head on the floor. My Daddy, with Scot-Irish green eyes ever grinning, named her and it stuck for life. Yet, if she were to carry a name based on behavior for all her life, it’d be – Sweet, Kind, Loving, Nurturing, or Gentle. If her name were based on character it’d be – Fiercely Protective, Stubborn, Deeply Devout, and again, Loving.

Bumpy loved others the way our parents loved us. Totally and completely. Unabashedly openly. Sweetly and sentimentally. And, especially so, for family, family, family.

Bumpy was born in Jackson, Mississippi during World War II. Daddy drove around town honking his horn the night she was born. Bumpy was the apple of his eye from first breath.

Momma and Bumpy were the second American dependents to come to Bamberg, Germany in 1946. She was the princess for so many officers separated from their families for so long. When they sailed back into New York harbor in 1949, Bumpy started crying in terror. The unbombed buildings meant “The War”, which clearly was the horrible thing grown-ups were always talking about, hadn’t come to America yet. She was afraid. Such a gentle soul.

We came back to Europe, just two years later, to France. We lived in parts rented out of three chateaus near Bordeaux. We moved every year when they raised the rent. Her playmates were the French children who lived there. She rode to the first grade – almost 90 minutes – in the back of an Army ambulance used for a bus.

Growing up she was a shy, quiet girl in public. She took ballet and piano while five of us lived in a one bedroom apartment in Leavenworth, Kansas and small houses, Army quarters and apartments in San Antonio, Texas and Memphis, Tennessee. Bumpy was more animated at home. In Memphis, like many firstborns she was the special pride and joy of our grandparents – Atticus and Lillian League. She named them “Namoo” and “Pop”. She helped Momma a lot when Daddy was gone for thirteen months to Vietnam. She was baptized in the church where she would one day be married.

In Arlington, Virginia she was the big High School sister who babysat us daily, so Momma could work. She fixed us tomato soup, tuna fish or grilled cheese sandwiches as we watched a full length movie on TV after school. She loved musicals. She played Broadway show tune records over and over. She was very close to her friends. She was still quite shy.

She was dragged back across the Atlantic for her senior year in High School in Orleans, France. She volunteered in the hospital. She led us to the bus stop, unafraid, past all the soldiers with sub-machine guns and after two bombings on our block during the Algerian Crisis.

Then, Bumpy went to the University of Arizona. She fell in love with Dick Buehrer.

Bumpy was 20 when she got married. She had lived in 20 houses by then. 21 if you count her college dorm. The longest we had lived in one house was 3 years. Yet, since Momma decorated with the same accessories in each living room, dining area and kitchen every place looked like our home. Home is where we 5 were. We kids always knew we were part of large extended families in South Carolina and Tennessee. We knew we had our People. But, we were the expatriate cousins. Until Babs started her family, it was us 5 against  the world. Us 5 – as family – wherever we were together. We had great security nurtured by great love in that tight family.

Babs got married and her life was fulfilled as wife, mother, grandmother, master teacher and friend. We were separated by thousands of miles and years between visits.

Babs was far less retiring as a grown woman. She was a dedicated wife and mother. She made everything work for her family from Arizona to Washington to Oregon to Bakersfield, California. She loved teaching. She adored her students and their families.

I saw her after a number of business trips in the first decade of this millennium. Each time I told her how proud and happy our parents would be to see the family she had raised. She was the happy matriarch with the brood close enough to touch in her lovingkindness. Her three daughters and six grandchildren have the imprint of her hands in their clay of their lives – from their DNA to their memories – much of Babs is in them. I hope they’ll live up to how sweet, kind, protective, nurturing, gentle, loving, devout, and — Bumpy stubborn – our Bumpy was.

My first thought when I heard of her passing was how happy our parents are to see her again. Someday, we will be too. I love you, Bumpy.


James Atticus Bowden

The way we were at the start together.

They way we were at our last time together. Our finish as all 3.

Why we 3 lived. Our Clan, next gen, missing Nathan, Maggie and Russell. The children, grandchildren and spouses of James Albert and Edith Henderson Bowden. Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ.


Thank you, Bakersfield Sept of the Clan.  My parents and Babs – and my wife –  in Heaven are so proud of you.  So grateful to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Her video produced by Granddaughter Hannah – when I can figure out how to upload it…TBD








  1. What an honor it is to be memorialized by you, James. Beautiful tribute, beautiful family.

  2. So beautiful, Uncle Bubba! Thank you!! Love you all very much! Xoxo

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