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 David S “Dave” Sowell, Jr

David S “Dave” Sowell, Jr

Cleburne, Johnson County, Texas, USA
Death 3 Jan 2007 (aged 98)
Cleburne, Johnson County, Texas, USA
Burial Rio Vista, Johnson County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID 17309518 · View Source
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Dave Sowell was a member of a pioneer Cleburne family and was a retired businessman and civic and religious leader.

Mr. Sowell was the son of D. S. Sowell, Sr. and Laura Jane Couch Sowell. D. S. Sowell, Sr. was the founder of the Cleburne Oil Company, a founder and board member of the City National Bank (a predecessor of the First Financial Bank of Cleburne), and owned and operated two ranches near Cleburne. Mr. and Mrs. Sowell, Sr. moved to Johnson County in 1901 and lived first in Joshua, then in Cleburne until their deaths.

Dave Sowell, Jr. attended public schools in Cleburne and graduated from Cleburne High School in 1926. He then attended Abilene Christian College in Abilene, TX during the 1926-1927 school year. At ACC, he lettered in tennis and was a member of the "PALS Club." The PALS Club held annual reunions for many years in order to recall humorous memories of their college days. Dave was the last surviving member of the PALS Club.

Mr. Sowell married Esther Merriman Smith on July 22, 1928 at her home near Rio Vista. Mrs. Sowell died on March 31, 2002. Dave and Esther were very devoted to each other and had been married almost 74 years at the time of her death. They worked as a team during his long tenure as an elder of the Westside Church of Christ and together played a vital and influential role in the lives of their children and grandchildren. They hosted many social activities for the youth and other members of their church and many gatherings for their families. They enjoyed many trips together in North America and Europe and made friends everywhere they went. Celebrations of their fiftieth, sixtieth, sixty-fifth, and seventieth anniversaries were shared by family members and friends. Esther's health deteriorated greatly in her own final years and Dave lovingly cared for her until her death. He told family and friends that he "prayed that he might outlive Esther so that he could take care of her."

Mr. Sowell was active in business for seventy-one years. He worked at the Cleburne Oil Company from 1927 to 1946 with his father and brothers. He then purchased an interest in Gray's Feed Store from his friend Sylvan Gray in 1946 and the business was re-named Sowell and Gray. Mr. Gray later sold his interest to Dr. Tolbert Yater of Cleburne and the firm became Sowell and Company, a highly successful feed milling, wholesale and retail feed, and wholesale grocery business. During his career in the feed business, dairy farming was an important industry in Johnson County and most of the dairy farmers were regular customers. He sold his interest in Sowell and Company in 1975 and joined the Real Estate department of the First State Bank of Rio Vista in 1976. He was still working actively in this role when he retired in 1998 at the age of 90.

He was baptized into Christ at an early age and was for many years a member of the Central Church of Christ. In 1946, he became a charter member and elder of the Westside Church of Christ and was a member of the building committee for Westside's original building at Pendell and West Henderson Street, completed in 1946 (now the home of the Cleburne Bible Church). He chaired the building committee for the present building on Westhill Drive, completed in 1983. His leadership resulted in the purchase of a unique and beautiful location and the retirement of the building's debt shortly after its construction was complete. He retired from the eldership at the age of 80 because of his belief that younger men should take his place.

Mr. Sowell was a member of the board of the Cleburne Independent School District from 1947 to 1960. The Coleman, Cooke, and Fulton buildings, all part of the current physical plant of the CISD, were built during his service. He declined to seek re-election to the board after his youngest child graduated from Cleburne High School because, in his opinion, board members should be the parents of CISD students.

Mr. Sowell was a member of the Cleburne City Charter Committee, a director of the Cleburne Savings and Loan Association, a director of the First State Bank of Rio Vista and a long-time member of the Board of Managers of the Johnson County Memorial Hospital. He was a long-time member and past-president of the Cleburne Lions Club. He was a supporter of Abilene Christian University and established a scholarship fund at ACU in honor of his mother: The Laura Sowell Scholarship.

His wife Esther, his parents, his sisters Lois Keltner and Jimmie Sowell, his brothers Albert Sowell and Milton ("Doc") Sowell, his brothers-in-law Lowell Smith Sr. and Colonel E. H. Keltner, his sisters-in-laws Gladys Smith and Jennie Lee Sowell, his sons-in-law Shelley V. Smith and Russ Kersten, and his friends and business partners Sylvan Gray and Dr. Tolbert Yater all preceded him in death.

Dave is survived by his sister-in-law Cliff Sowell of Cleburne; daughters Shirley Sowell Smith of Abilene and Jane Sowell Kersten of Nashville, TN, son Dr. David Sowell, III and wife Claudia Chambers Sowell of Dallas; grandchildren Esther Kay Kersten Nickell and husband Mark Nickell of Nashville, TN, Lt. Col. Frank Stanley Kersten and wife Silvana Kersten of Manassas, Virginia, Shelley Vance Smith, Jr. and wife Shari Smith of Three Rivers, Texas, Kent Kersten and wife Maggie Kersten of Nashville, TN, Seth Austin Smith and wife Katelin Smith of Dallas, Laura Sowell Dennis and husband Dr. Brent Dennis of Tulsa, OK, Elizabeth Ann Sowell Moore and husband Edward Moore of Mesa, AZ; great-grandchildren Jane Nickell, Nico Kersten, Stephanie Kersten, Sophia Kersten, Allis Kersten, Evan Kersten, William David Kersten, SrA Daniel Smith and wife Rene Smith, Robert (Robby) Smith, Shelly Vanessa Smith, Ian Smith, Zane David Dennis, Ethan Dennis, Abigail Dennis, and Georgia Bronte Smith; several nieces and nephews; and many friends.

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  • Created by: JME
  • Added: 5 Jan 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 17309518
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for David S “Dave” Sowell, Jr (22 May 1908–3 Jan 2007), Find A Grave Memorial no. 17309518, citing Grange Hall Cemetery, Rio Vista, Johnson County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by JME (contributor 46551271) .