World War II soldier to be remembered this Memorial Day and every day

John Thompson • May 25, 2018 at 8:52 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Memorial Day will hold a special significance for the parishioners and friends of St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Sunday.

The memory of Staff Sgt. Samuel Murray Bowers, who was killed in Luxembourg on Dec. 19, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, will be honored with a special fund that is being established by his daughter, Wilda Blevins Newman, and her husband, Edward I. Newman.

Pastor Timothy Holder said there will be two separate veterans honors taking place during the weekend.

He said Wilma Newman will present a print Saturday that the North American Rayon Corp. gave out during the war to the families of employees who were killed in the war. The print shows Lady Liberty and other patriotic symbols honoring the fallen warriors.

She said the family received two of the prints. One was given to her grandmother and the other was given to her mother. One refers to Bowers as a son and the other refers to him as husband. Wilma Newman is presenting the mother’s print to the church.

She said they are approximately 3 feet by 4 feet and came with a beautiful frame. She remembers going to a friend’s house when she was a child. Her friend had also lost her father in the war and she said the same print was prominently displayed in her friend’s living room.

Holder said the print will form the centerpiece of a Veterans Memorial inside the church. The memorial will feature the names of prisoners who served and will provide a place where family or friends can remember or pray for a veteran.

The memorial will be visible to worshipers as they enter the sanctuary.

The second event will take place during Sunday’s service, when Wilma Newman will announce the establishment of the Samuel Murray Bowers Memorial Fund at St. Thomas Church, Elizabethton. The purpose of the fund is “to help ... without bias or prejudice.”

Holder said the fund would be a help for the church’s ministry in the middle of town, where there are people suffering from homelessness and drug addiction. He said some of those are veterans.

In a press release announcing the event, Wilma Newman said: “We think it is fitting that the fund be used to extend a helping hand to those in need. Staff Sgt. Bowers, like so many young Americans at that time, reached across the ocean, and gave his life.

“In his honor, we would like to reach across the community, to help those in need for their life and liberty.” 

Holder said the family intends to replenish the funds periodically. The public will also be invited to donate to help those in need and to honor Sgt. Bowers.

Newman said her father is buried in the Luxembourg American Cemetery. According to information she received from the American Battle Monuments Commission, her father served in the 12th Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.

Newman said she has no memories of her father. She was only 2 years old when he died. Her sister was 4 years old and her brother was 13 months old. She does have childhood memories of the area. 

She attended Gap Creek Elementary School and Happy Valley High School. She then went to the University of Tennessee and East Tennessee State University.

She and Edward Newman settled in Maryland, where they have lived for over 50 years. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and her master’s degree from Catholic University of America in Washington.

She retired from Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory. She remains active in professional associations at the national and international level and has been recognized for her extensive professional work and contributions.

Despite their busy lives in Maryland, the Newmans remained frequent visitors to Elizabethon and Carter County, staying in touch with her family and friends. They have a son, David Samuel Newman. He and his family also reside in Maryland.

The Newmans have made two trips to Luxembourg to visit her father’s grave and expressed gratitude at how the staff maintains the cemetery.

Now there will be another place where Staff Sgt. Bowers will be remembered and where veterans and others in need can find help.

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