Memorial Services Held For Mari Ann Fowler

Published: Aug. 28, 2005 at 3:57 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2005 at 10:18 PM CDT
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Mari Ann Fowler was a woman who loved, laughed, and cared for everyone, her family and friends told a church packed with other friends and relatives who came to celebrate her life and mourn her death.

She was kidnapped Christmas Eve 2002, on her way to the Texas prison where her husband, former elections commissioner Jerry Fowler, was serving a 5-year term for fraud. Her body was never found; a judge declared her dead in may 2004.

"Everyone knows where I've been for the last few years," Fowler told the hundreds of people, including his wife's 90-year-old mother, in Holy Ghost Catholic Church. He left the pulpit in tears after saying he and his wife had both loved country music and quoting a song by George Strait: "It's been a long hard ride. See you on the other side." Her son, John Anthony Pritchett, read the well-known poem beginning, "Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there, I shall not sleep." He also left the pulpit in tears.

Pritchett said he got much of his fighting spirit from his mother, and will fight through his grief and anger at the kidnapping and apparent murder.

Mari Ann Fowler's best friend, Millie Bonacorso, declared that Mari Ann was really the family politician. "The best thing about Mari Ann - she was always laughing and talking; she always loved people and never met a stranger," she said.

Sally Clausen, head of the University of Louisiana System, also remembered that aspect of Fowler, an education consultant who had worked up from teacher to assistant state education superintendent for research and development. She told about attending a course at which, instead of going back to their room and studying, she and Fowler took a young newcomer out to dinner. When she said it was getting late, Clausen recalled, Mari Ann Fowler told her, "Life is short. Take time and laugh a little." She "floated like a butterfly," Clausen said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)