By Deb Silverthorn
Jeanne Fowler has made Dallas her home just in time for her 100th birthday. The day she became a centenarian, Oct. 14, was a special one.
Born in Chicago and raised in Queens, New York, Jeanne moved to Dallas in late September. Her new residence at Iris Memory Care of Turtle Creek has brought her closer to her daughter and son-in-law, Lee and Daniel Schwimmer, and her granddaughter Karalee Conover.
“This is not her first rodeo living in Texas,” said Lee, who has lived in Dallas for the last two years.
Jeanne’s grandfather, Moses Levi, who came to Texas from France in the 1870s, married Melanie Coblentz and the couple lived in Waxahachie and Corsicana. The Hebrew cemetery in Corsicana, where they are buried, is where they owned a meat market. They are believed to have been involved at Temple Beth El there.
Jeanne, the daughter of the late Estelle and Irving Mayer and sister of Muriel (Lou) Soffer, served in the Women’s Army Corps and was based at Corpus Christi. There she met her future husband and U.S. Navy serviceperson, Charles Fowler, of blessed memory.
The Fowlers eventually made their way to the West Coast during their service and spent their lives together in San Diego. In addition to Lee, Jeanne also has a son, Dane (Helen) Copeland, for whom California’s southern coast remains home.
“My mother spent her married life as a homemaker,” said Lee. “She was very athletic. She enjoyed swimming, she played tennis, she loved to tend to her garden and played duplicate bridge four days a week.”
Not one to only sit at home, Jeanne was often involved in local political campaigns and always gave her time, energy and money to support the then-budding NOW (National Organization of Women) movement.
Jeanne has settled in at the Iris; she participates in activities and meals with residents who have welcomed her and has become active in the daily schedule and acclimated to her new home. She says, “I love it!” Her local family couldn’t be happier to have her here.
“My grandmother moved to San Diego to be closer to her daughter; my husband and I moved to Dallas to be closer to mine,” said Lee. “I’m just so happy now that my mother has moved here closer to me.”
Jeanne, strong to her core, has passed on that strength to the next two generations.
“I’m so glad my parents have moved here and now, to have Grammie here too? It’s the best,” said Lee’s daughter, Karalee. “It means a short drive to see any of them, rather than a flight, and it means we can share so many good times together.”
Conover’s memories of her Grammie include Jeanne’s teaching her how to play Scrabble. Learning “how” to play — the right words, the letters, the whole picture of the board — was always more important than winning.
Reaching 100, a milestone of honor, Jeanne Fowler spells out a life to celebrate.