Bowser To Serve As Mentone Egg Festival Grand Marshal
By Leah Sander
MENTONE — Phyllis Bowser once felt somewhat like an outsider in Mentone.
Now she is being honored as the grand marshal in the town’s Egg Festival parade. Bowser, the oldest resident of Mentone, will be with family at the front of the event set to start at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 3.
Bowser, 96, told InkFreeNews she felt out of place in Mentone when younger due to not being born there.
Originally from Nappanee, she moved at the age of five to Mentone with her parents Fred and Lois (Hill) Lemler. There they purchased a grocery store on Main Street “where Java Jacks … is now.”
It was known at first as the Hill and Lemler Grocery Store.
The family was later completed by Bowser’s younger sister, Leah Nell Yeiter.
She graduated in 1944 from Mentone High School, being one of the last surviving members of that class. While in school, Bowser had a passion for music, studying under a voice teacher.
After her late husband, Alva “Wayne” Bowser, got back from serving in the Army during World War II, the couple married in 1945. Wayne himself was chosen as the Egg Festival parade grand marshal.
The two went to Fort Wayne for their honeymoon at the time of a bad ice storm, said Phyllis. Fort Wayne police weren’t allowing people to go out on the streets, so the two were trapped in their hotel room for about two days.
The couple would live with her parents for “about a year” before building and moving to the home on Tucker Street where she still lives.
They have three children: Vicki Swihart, Debbie Reed and Fred Bowser; 10 grandchildren; and numerous great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
Phyllis noted Mentone “was a very good environment to raise” the kids in. She and Wayne would operate the family’s grocery business, last named L & B Store, for 32 years.
Phyllis once got the opportunity to be at an event with Princess Grace of Monaco. She won a trip to Monte Carlo in the country due to selling Avon products.
She’s been in various clubs, including the Order of the Eastern Star and the local Jolly Janes homemakers club, and taught Sunday school and sang in the choir at First Baptist Church of Mentone. She also worked as a paraprofessional for a while at the Mentone school.
“I do feel honored,” she said of being named parade grand marshal.