Thelma Marie Bowens

Thelma Marie Bowens, a loving mother and an exceptional seamstress, died unexpectedly at her home Thursday, January 11, 2018. 

Thelma was born May 26, 1938 in Wilson, North Carolina to the late William Batts and Bessie Batts.  She attended Darden High School in Wilson, North Carolina and later attended North Carolina Central University. After her marriage on July 1, 1960, she moved to Washington, DC and later to New York and worked in the Dental School at Seton Hall University.  She moved back to North Carolina and lived in Durham before moving to Chapel Hill with her husband and three daughters in 1973.

Thelma was a member of Calvary Presbyterian Church in Wilson, North Carolina and, for several years, attended Covenant Presbyterian Church, in Durham, North Carolina.

Thelma was a strong, supportive, loving, caring and beautiful mother who was always available for her girls and always wanted the very best for them.  She had a dry sense of humor and a quick wit.  Thelma was a source of sage advice, an active listener, and was always willing to lend a hand when needed.

She was an extraordinary seamstress who began sewing when she was 12 years old and never stopped.  Thelma sewed for her daughters and began to share her amazing talent with others when she started working for the Stitch-in-Time on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  From there, she decided to branch out on her own and begin sewing for others in her home, receiving referrals from two local fabric shops – the Cotton Boll and Mulberry Silks and by word of mouth.  The clothing she made was bespoke.  She was meticulous with every detail.  Every garment she made was the quality of a high couture design from the inside out – every last stitch.

Thelma later began sewing for her granddaughter as well, including making her an Easter outfit every year.  She enjoyed attending her granddaughter’s recitals.  During the last two years, after her granddaughter entered Middle School, Thelma got tremendous pleasure listening to her play her violin and watching her perform during her choral and orchestra performances and recitals.  She cherished both her daughters and her granddaughter. 

Thelma was remarkable – unlike any other as a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a seamstress. Her daughters’ and granddaughter’s hearts ache for her sudden lose.  Her unconditional love, humor, laughter and friendship will be sorely missed.

Thelma is survived by her daughters, Tracy Bowens (Paris, France), Jaada Bowens (Chapel Hill, North Carolina), Tara Bowens (Chapel Hill, North Carolina), her granddaughter Michaela-Marie Bowens (Chapel Hill, North Carolina), a sister, Lucille Batts (Charlotte, North Carolina) and a brother, William Batts (Durham, North Carolina).  Thelma is preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Hoover Curtis Bowens and her brother Jimmy Batts.

In accordance with Thelma’s wishes, there will not be a funeral.  Her daughters will honor her at a later date.

In honor of their mother, her daughters ask that donations be made to the Phillips Middle School Orchestra Program in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  Donations can be made out to Phillips Middle School with a note stating that it is for the Phillips Orchestra Program in memory of Thelma Bowens.

Near a shady wall a rose once grew,

         Budded and blossomed in God’s free light,

Watered and fed morning dew,

Shedding its sweetness day and night.


As it grew and blossomed fair and tall,

            slowly rising to the loftier height,

It came to a crevice in the wall

Through which there shone a beam of light.


Onward it crept with added strength,

            with never a thought of fear or pride,

It followed the light through the crevice’s length

And unfolded itself on the other side.


The light, the dew, the broadening view,

            were found the same as they were before,

And it lost itself in beauties new,

Breathing its fragrance more and more.


Shall claim of death cause us to grieve,

            and make our courage faint and fall?

Nay!  Let us faith and hope receive -

The rose still grows beyond the wall,

Scattering fragrance far and wide

            just as it did in days of yore,

Just as it did on the other side,

            just as it will forever more.


                                                From the writings of A.L. Frink