The Fowler/Gomme Family Endowment was established to celebrate the life of Mary Belle Jean Fowler, who was born on April 8, 1938 New Westminster, BC and raised in the Dunbar area of Vancouver. She met Reid Fowler while they were both attending UBC, and they married in 1961.
After stints in Saskatoon and Victoria, Reid and Mary arrived in Salmon Arm in 1970, with their children, son Malcolm and daughter Norma Jean. Reid had accepted a position as a Math and Physics professor at Okanagan College, where he taught until his retirement in 2000. Mary chose to be a homemaker, looking after their home and the children. She loved gardening and was an excellent cook. As a very competent, highly organized secretary, she had worked in Saskatoon assisting the Director of Cancer Research and continued secretarial work in Salmon Arm on a part-Time basis after the children had begun school. She was employed at the Salmon Arm Health Unit for short periods of time, and also worked for the Simon Fraser University Teacher Training Program.
A lifetime member of the Shuswap Lake Health-Care Auxiliary, Mary was a driving force behind the Youth Health Care (Candy Striper-Cadet) program and worked directly with the young volunteers for many years. Over the years she held every executive position on the Auxiliary, some several times. Mary also served as a member of the local Hospital Board. She was an active member of many other community organizations, including the Shuswap Outdoors Club, of which she was a charter member.
She and Reid both decided to learn to play the trombone when their children were in high school and played with Rich Thorne’s “Bonehead Band”(as they called it), later joining the Salmon Arm Community Band together with daughter Norma. However, Mary’s first love was choral music, and she sang with the Shuswap Singers for over 30 years.
Spending time in the wilderness, in nature, was a necessary part of Reid and Mary’s life. Every summer would find them on the beach near Gibsons, where Mary’s family owned a cabin. A favourite place to celebrate special occasions was Lake O’Hara and canoeing the South Saskatchewan and Upper Columbia Rivers with a group of friends were trips repeated with exhilaration and joy. Through their interest and participation in the world of music, with their children actively involved during their school years, Mary and Reid became aware of a sub culture in the world of music, equivalent to that of athletes seeking excellence in their chosen sport. Although taught music in schools as part of the curriculum, many students pursued their musical choices mainly outside the school system, taking private lessons, travelling to adjudicated competitions, and always striving to become the best at what they did. As parents and grandparents of music-loving children, they knew what costs were involved in allowing children to reach their full potential.
With Mary’s untimely death in May of 2009, the family chose to honour and commemorate Mary’s life by establishing the Fowler/Gomme Family Endowment Fund. Many friends and family have donated to this fund, which was initiated by Reid. Malcolm and his wife Mary-Ann donated in the name of their daughter Meghan, as did Norma Jean & Graham Gomme in the names of their children, Hannah and Reid. The income from the fund will be given each year as a scholarship to Shuswap Music Festival Society, with preference given to excellence in vocal performance.
A student graduating from Salmon Arm Senior Secondary School who has demonstrated excellence in the performing arts (music theatre, music, drama or dance) in grades 11 and 12, with preference given to excellence in musical theatre.
2023 Award – two scholarships at $500