Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dr. James Harrison Sowers, my father.

My dad was called "Doc" by nearly everyone who knew him. He grew up in a well to do family in the south central part of Iowa, and went to both prep school and college at the University of Iowa. He played end for the Hawkeyes, then later semi-pro baseball. He became a dentist, but never lost his keen interest in either sports or politics. He served in the U.S. Army Dental Corps in World War I.

Doc's first wife Helen died of a brain aneurism. He'd been married to her for nearly 25 years. When he courted and then married my mother, he was in his mid-50s and he had used up most of his money taking care of his first wife after she fell ill. In his dental practice, he always took care of those who needed care, whether they could pay or not.

He must have been shocked to have two children in his late fifties, both girls. He was fiercely proud of us. We learned how to sit and listen to baseball, football and basketball games on the radio. More importantly, we learned how to play each sport. The bar was set a bit differently for intelligence. I think he genuinely enjoyed teaching us how to think and to argue either side of a question. In the morning, he got up before anyone else, turned the radio on to the news then sat with a cup of coffee and read The Des Moines Register while the house was still quiet. He passed that on to both my sister Mary and me. We are as interested in the world and being a part of it as he was.

He died when we were just out of graduate school. I think he would have been pleased about how Mary and I have evolved. I know he would have been extremely proud of his three grandchildren, including the one who bears his full name.

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