Marjorie F. Bowden, 88, avid volunteer historian, artist

Marjorie F. Bowden
Marjorie F. Bowden
Posted: January 24, 2014

Marjorie Fletcher Thomson Bowden, 88, of Villanova and Mantoloking, N.J., an amateur historian and descendant of a noted 19th-century silversmith, died Wednesday, Jan. 8, of cancer at Meadowood Retirement Community in Worcester Township.

Mrs. Bowden assisted with research on a number of projects, including a history of Radnor Township, A Rare and Pleasing Thing by Katherine Cummin, and a book on the family history of her ancestor Jan Luyken, a Quaker who settled in Germantown in 1683.

She was the great-great-granddaughter of Thomas Fletcher of Philadelphia, one of America's leading silversmiths of the early 1800s. In that context, Mrs. Bowden contributed letters and documents to the book and museum exhibit Silversmiths to the Nation: Thomas Fletcher and Sidney Gardiner, 1808-1842, curated by the Winterthur Museum of Delaware.

The show, which opened at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in late 2007, included rarely seen presentation silverware of the era. Mrs. Bowden was honored for her contributions by Winterthur in 2008.

Mrs. Bowden was a volunteer historian for over 50 years. A charter member of the Penn's Grant chapter of Colonial Dames 17th Century, she served as the group's president.

She also was a member of the National Society Colonial Dames, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Pennsylvania Society of New England Women.

She was active in the Radnor School District, helping the PTA and the Radnor Scholarship Fund. A woman with a lifelong commitment to art education, she volunteered for the Philadelphia Art Museum's "Art Goes to School" program.

Mrs. Bowden grew up in Lansdowne and graduated in 1943 from George School in Newtown. She attended her 70th high school reunion in 2013.

She earned a certificate in illustration from the Philadelphia Museum School, now part of the University of the Arts, and worked for an advertising firm in Center City. She went on to teach art at the Stevens School in Chestnut Hill.

She married Frank J. Bowden Jr., a lobbyist for the oil industry, in 1957. The couple lived in Radnor and Villanova. He died in 2003.

Her passions were art, history, bridge, genealogy, and entertaining at the family's second home in Mantoloking, N.J. She was a member of the Mantoloking Yacht Club and the Union League of Philadelphia.

Mrs. Bowden was very positive. "Always aspire to do great things. Do not set pessimistic goals," she told her children, borrowing from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay "Civilization."

She is survived by sons David L. and F. Jay III; daughters Nancy Fletcher Bowden Harris and Rebecca Bowden Guenther; and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at Meadowood Retirement Community Library, 3205 Skippack Pike, Worcester Township. Burial is private.

Donations may be made to Radnor Friends Meeting, Conestoga Road, Villanova, Pa. 19085.



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