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Elizabeth Rachel "Beth" Bowers
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Birth: Apr. 5, 1979
Death: Mar. 6, 2002, Zambia

Peace Corps Volunteer Elizabeth Bowers Dies

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 11, 2002—Director Gaddi Vasquez announced the death of Peace Corps Volunteer Elizabeth (Beth) Bowers, 22, of Salem, Oregon on Wednesday, March 6 as a result of severe injuries sustained from a fall from a bicycle. Ms. Bowers was serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia at the time of her death.

In keeping with the family's wishes, Ms. Bowers' organs were donated, making a lasting difference in the lives of 22 people.

"This tragic accident is a terrible loss for the Peace Corps," Director Gaddi Vasquez said. "I understand that even in the short time she had been in Zambia, she had won over people in her village with her kindness and friendly, fun-loving nature."

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, Ms. Bowers worked on a fisheries assignment in the Northwestern Province in Zambia. She worked with 15 households in the area to teach them fish farming techniques, as well as animal husbandry, agro-forestry, and sustainable agriculture techniques. She was promoting a more integrated farming system where all these activities are linked.

"What especially impressed me about Beth was her eagerness and enthusiasm for the new culture that she was just beginning to be exposed to," said Zambia Country Director Brian Cavanaugh. "Though she had barely been at her site for three months, I know that she was off to a solid start and was very happy with her life and work. People had come to appreciate her."

Ms. Bowers graduated from Earlham College in Indiana and is survived by her parents Gerard and Linda Bowers and her sister, Jennifer.

Deputy Director Jody Olsen will represent the Peace Corps at a memorial service to be held in Oregon. Volunteers in Zambia will hold a service in honor of Ms. Bowers on March 19.

SUSAN TOM - Statesman Journal - April 6

"I want to feel more confident that I can make decisions that benefit others … . I want to feel as though I have accomplished something, and that I have helped other human beings in some way. Finally, I want to live the next two years hard, and be able to say that I did it, and I did it well."

Elizabeth Bowers' aspiration statement on her Peace Corps application.

It took Elizabeth Rachel Bowers less than six months to accomplish her goals.

The Peace Corps worker arrived in Zambia in early September to teach fish farming to families who lived on $80 a year. She died there March 6 from injuries sustained in a bicycling accident.

In Washington, D.C., the Peace Corps flag outside headquarters flew at half-staff Friday to honor one of America's ambassadors.

In Salem, at a memorial celebration at Willamette University on Friday, Bowers' 23rd birthday, Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez read a letter from President Bush praising her work. Vasquez presented her parents, Gerard and Linda Bowers, with an American flag and a Peace Corps flag that had flown outside headquarters.

Gerard Bowers, a Willamette professor, said he takes comfort and pride in knowing that his daughter was widely and deeply appreciated.

"I was very moved by that," he said.

He stood vigil at his daughter's side in a South Africa hospital until she died, then arranged for her organs and tissues to be donated to give 22 Africans a second chance.

Family, friends, colleagues and students stood in a line that stretched from the Mary Stuart Rogers Music Center across the creek on campus, waiting to sign the guest book and participate in a traditional Japanese incense and prayer ritual.

Inside Hudson Hall, delicate notes from a koto, a Japanese instrument, rang out until nearly all seats were filled by those touched in some way by the Sprague High School graduate.

Kaori Saito, who met Beth Bowers at Tokyo International University of America in Salem, flew from Japan to speak at the celebration of light.

Bowers spent her junior year in Japan before returning to Earlham College, an Indiana Quaker school she chose for its peace and global studies. She graduated from there in 2001 with a degree in Japanese studies.

"I have never met someone who moved my heart so strongly," Saito said in Japanese, because Bowers understood it, then in English. "I want to be this kind of person."

Ellen Maynard, who met Bowers during their freshman year at Earlham and had lunch with her every Friday during their senior year, came from North Carolina for the celebration.

She invited everyone to join in a moment of silence to reflect on Bowers' life and to share their memories with those present.

The mood turned joyful during a short video of Bowers during a Peace Corps swearing-in ceremony.

Dressed in a skirt and a pullover top, her hair swept up in a bun, Bowers took the mike and thanked the language and technical trainers and host families in their native tongue.

Smiles spread across somber faces, supplanting tears of grief.

Jennifer Bowers, 25, remembered how her younger sister looked up to her. Now Beth is the one Jennifer looks up to.

"The service was absolutely beautiful, just like she was."

In keeping with the family's wishes, Ms. Bowers' organs were donated, making a lasting difference in the lives of 22 people.

"This tragic accident is a terrible loss for the Peace Corps," Director Gaddi Vasquez said. "I understand that even in the short time she had been in Zambia, she had won over people in her village with her kindness and friendly, fun-loving nature."

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, Ms. Bowers worked on a fisheries assignment in the Northwestern Province in Zambia. She worked with 15 households in the area to teach them fish farming techniques, as well as animal husbandry, agro-forestry, and sustainable agriculture techniques. She was promoting a more integrated farming system where all these activities are linked.

"What especially impressed me about Beth was her eagerness and enthusiasm for the new culture that she was just beginning to be exposed to," said Zambia Country Director Brian Cavanaugh. "Though she had barely been at her site for three months, I know that she was off to a solid start and was very happy with her life and work. People had come to appreciate her."

Ms. Bowers graduated from Earlham College in Indiana and is survived by her parents Gerard and Linda Bowers and her sister, Jennifer.

Deputy Director Jody Olsen will represent the Peace Corps at a memorial service to be held in Oregon. Volunteers in Zambia will hold a service in honor of Ms. Bowers on March 19. 
 
Burial:
Unknown
 
Created by: Mark Frazier
Record added: Nov 25, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 80951797
 


- Lance
 Added: Mar. 31, 2013
Your intent for Peace continues.
- Mark Frazier
 Added: Nov. 25, 2011
 
 
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