Vera Rodriguez Bowers was born on Sept. 24, 1919 to Petra Cardenas Rodriguez and Urbano Rodriguez in Columbus, New Mexico. She died on Aug. 19, 2020 at age 100 years, 11 months and 20 days.
Along with another family, mother, and three other siblings, Vera traveled across the country from El Paso, Texas, to California. Her parents, with all eight children, moved through California as farm workers, eventually settling in Santa Maria in 1928.
Vera attended local schools, including El Camino Junior High and Santa Maria High School, then went to work in the fields alongside the rest of the family.
In 1939, Vera met Ben Bowers, who was stationed at Camp Cooke, at a USO dance, and within two weeks they married.
At the close of World War II, Vera left Santa Maria with her two daughters on a train from Guadalupe, California, headed for New York, where they then boarded a troop ship that then went on to Bremerhaven, Germany, where they joined her husband Ben.
The Bowers family lived in Bayreuth and Bamberg, Germany; Fort Winfield Scott, San Francisco; Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky; Fort Douglas, Utah; Yokohama, Japan; Camp Stoneman, California; Fort Richardson, Alaska; Fort Lewis, Washington; and Fort Bragg, northern Carolina.
While living in Japan, the North Koreans crossed the 38th parallel and the Korean War broke out. As a military wife, Vera returned stateside to Santa Maria with her two young daughters, often living as a single parent.
At a time when women weren’t expected to make difficult decisions, travel across country and an ocean to an unknown land was not commonplace. When we lived in Japan and had to return to the states, the U.S. Army gave her a whole week to pack up and leave due to the threat of war.
Vera was a very strong and determined woman with such courage, never complaining. She and Ben Bowers were married for 55 years before his death in 1994.
Vera is survived by her daughter Alice Patino (John); grandsons John Patino of Santa Maria and Dominic Patino of Bakersfield; daughter Diana Corrigan (Jack) of Napa, California; grandsons John Corrigan of Napa, Jerad Corrigan of Sacramento, granddaughter Hilary Pieper of Napa; sister Edna Draper of Santa Maria; 10 great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandson; several nieces, nephews and cousins.
Vera was preceded in death by her husband Ben Bowers, parents Petra and Urbano Rodriguez; siblings Urbano Rodriguez, Alfonso Rodriguez, Horatio Rodriguez, Rudy Rodriguez, Catalina Rodriguez and Herminia Della Bitta.
Burial will be held at the Golden Gate Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family request donations to the Marian Regional Center Foundation in memory of Vera Rodriguez Bowers.
To leave a condolence for the family, visit www.dudleyhoffmanmortuary.com.