Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children


102 Years of Saving for Others

The Story of Thelma Bowles

Thelma Bowles supported students, children, and her church.

"Frugal" was a word used by her friends to describe her. Mrs. Thelma Bowles lived a life of penny pinching, but for good reason.

"She wouldn’t buy a washing machine, it was too much. "She just did the wash in the tub, said Reba Pettitt, friend of Thelma for over 40 years. "...She wanted as much left over at the end of her life as possible to give to others.

Two months shy of her 103rd birthday, the Holdenville, OK, woman passed away leaving a 100% charitable gift to benefit Oklahoma Baptist University (where she attended in the 1920’s), Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, and First Baptist Church of Holdenville. Her estate of over $460,000.00 will establish an endowment trust through the Foundation, and each year the three beneficiaries will receive an annual distribution.

Mrs. Bowles was a school teacher before moving to Oklahoma City with her husband, Irvin. While living in OKC, the couple both worked for Halliburton. In 1927, the couple moved to Holdenville, where Irvin worked at Billington Lumber Yard, and Thelma served as a bookkeeper for Physicians and Surgeons Clinic for over 20 years.

She was very active in her church, Order of the Eastern Star, and loved tatting, crossword puzzles, and working in her yard.

Although the Bowles never had children, 'they loved their neighbors’ sons and the neighbor boys grew up helping the older couple, especially once Irvin became crippled. The boys continued to care for the Bowles’ farm and assist Thelma in caring for her husband, until he passed away in 1973.

"She denied herself of so much," said Florence Harris, neighbor for 50 years. "But she always wanted to return a favor to someone else...She really knew people and cared about them."

"...She wanted as much left over at the end of her life as possible to give to others."

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