VENICE — Celia Mathews Cowley, 89, died March 13, 2013, quietly at her home in Venice. She always wished for a quiet passing, and the good Lord blessed her with this simple, earthly desire.
She was born Jan. 9, 1924, at home in Antimony, to Esther Black and Benjamin Lyn Mathews. She was the fifth child of 11, one of four sisters and seven brothers.
She was a cheerful, kind spirit in a time when much physical work was required even of children. Her childhood memories included cooking over the old wood fired kitchen stove; hot, hot work in the summer when it came time to bottle fruit and vegetables or wash clothes on the scrub board. Her father had milk cows but her mother refused to let the girls in the family learn how to milk them. She did churn butter by hand, make all of her own clothes and help tend the younger sisters and brothers.
Antimony was isolated, but she remembered the fun of the community dance, held every two weeks. Locals who played the fiddle or piano provided the music and the town kids would have a great time together.
Celia never lost the faith instilled in her as a young child. She got down on her knees morning and night to give thanks and ask for blessings for her family.
When Celia was a senior in high school her parents let her and a younger sister move to Richfield to attend high school. They lived in a little apartment and Celia met Charles Cowley in a debate class at Richfield High School where he sat right behind her. He was shy and bashful, skinny with dark hair and very handsome. He teasingly pulled her hair and they got better acquainted.
After high school both went off to college at Logan, but after two quarters at school they came back to Sevier Valley where Charles was drafted into the Army. When he came home on leave they got engaged and married a year later in the St. George LDS temple on Feb. 13, 1945, when he had a brief furlough. During Charles’ Army years in World War II, Celia taught school in Antimony, moved back to Richfield and worked at Sprouse Reitz and Bradshaw Auto Parts. She wrote to Charles every day.
Charles and Celia raised their family in Venice with a brief move to Gunnison. She was a devoted and caring mother who nursed each child through ear infections, measles, mumps, chicken pox, even a case of pneumonia. Even though she hated to cook as a young girl, she made delicious food, kept a well-run house and stayed busy taking care of the bounty of a large garden. For many years she made the family clothes and delighted in teaching her daughters homemaking skills. She worked hard and had an abundance of stamina. Even into her 80s her daughters claimed she could still outwork them.
Celia was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and held many church callings. For the last few years she organized the Venice quilting ladies and spent each Monday quilting. Each child, grandchild, and all new family babies have beautiful examples of her excellent skill with a needle.
Her beloved husband died Feb. 14, 2002. She was his kind and caring angel through the last years of his life. After his death her spirits soared again with two new great-granddaughters. Each new family baby brought her immense joy and gave her the will and reason to enjoy life again. She was a beautiful young woman with a heart of grace and kindness who became more beautiful through the years for those same qualities. She was devoted to her family and each member felt her unconditional love.
She is survived by her children and their families, Charles Bruce Cowley, St. George; Brenda (Chris) Johnson, Baker City, Ore.; Pam Hawkins, McCall, Idaho; Matthew William and Sherryl Cowley, Murray; and Audrey (Bryce) Ogden, St. George; her 12 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren with three on the way, and two great-great-grandchildren.
The two grandchildren, Carey Ogden and Jennifer Johnson, who lived in Sevier Valley, were great blessings to her in her last decade. They and their families gave her the loving security that made her life joyful. Two of her brothers are still living, Dasil Mathews, Las Vegas; and Kay Mathews, Logan. She also cherished her Cowley brothers and sister and their families.
Funeral services took place March 18, in the Venice LDS ward chapel, with Brother Russell Buchanan officiating.
Compassionate services were provided by the Venice LDS ward Relief Society.
A family prayer was shared by Clint Cowley (grandson), and the invocation was given Jacklyn Cowley (granddaughter).
Rosalyn Dalley served as the organist.
Musical selections included “My Heavenly Father Loves Me,” performed by grandchildren; a performance by Chris Johnson (son-in-law); and congregational hymns “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” and “Because I Have Been Given Much.”
A DUP tribute was provided by Sharon Cowley (Venice Knoll Camp), with family tributes by Brenda Johnson (daughter), Matthew Cowley (son) and Carey Ogden (grandson).
Poems were read by Alexa Weber and Cassie Sandberg (granddaughters).
Remarks were shared by Russell Buchanan and the benediction was offered by Josh Sandberg (grandson-in-law).
Pallbearers included Carey Ogden, Jeramy Johnson, Wesley Hawkins, Clint Cowley, Josh Sandberg, John Cowley, Kris Weber and Jonathan Wolf.
Honorary pallbearers included Bruce Cowley, Matt Cowley, Bryce Ogden, Chris Johnson, Sharon Cowley, Julian Cowley, Dean Cowley, Phil Cowley, Jerry Jensen, Dasil Mathews, Kay Mathews, Keegan Johnson and Ryan May.
Casket escorts included granddaughters and great-granddaughters.
Interment was in the Richfield City Cemetery.
The dedicatory prayer was provided by Matthew Cowley (son).
Funeral directors, Magleby Mortuary, Richfield, Salina and Manti.
Online guest book at maglebymortuary.com.