106 YEARS: Esther Bowman of Blounts Creek celebrated her 106th birthday Jan. 24. Bowman celebrated with her daughter, Ellen Ratcliffe, and staff and volunteers of 2 East at Vidant Beaufort Hospital. Employees from Vidant Orthopedics Washington provided the cake for the celebration.

Archived Story

Another Beaufort County woman turns 106

Published 11:12pm Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Last week, Hattie Peed celebrated her 106th birthday with family and friends. Just days later, another Beaufort County woman, Esther Bowman, turned 106, too.
Nurses at Vidant-Beaufort Hospital threw Bowman a birthday party last Thursday, two days after Bowman had surgery to repair a broken hip.
According to Bowman’s daughter, Ellen Ratcliffe, Bowman was born in southeast Missouri, in a little town called Morley, in 1907, when Theodore Roosevelt was president and women didn’t yet have the right to vote. She grew up riding a horse and buggy to school.
Bowman wanted to become a nurse, and as a young woman moved to St. Louis to attend Missouri Baptist Hospital. She married, raised two sons and a daughter, but when they left home, she went back to work.
“She worked at a private mental hospital after we had all grown up and became the night supervisor for the whole hospital back when they did shock therapy and insulin therapy. Every day she went to work, she wore a white uniform, white stockings, white shoes and a starched white cap.
“She was kind of Nurse Ratched,” laughed Ratcliffe, referring to the nurse in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a movie starring Jack Nicholson.
During the war years, Bowman and her mother joined the war effort, going to work at Universal Match, a match company that also made signal flares. Ratcliffe said her mother was an avid gardener, a quilter, a pianist and studied voice. It wasn’t until both sons had died of cancer that she left St. Louis and moved to “sunny South” of Blounts Creek, where she’s lived since 2005. According to Ratcliffe, Bowman was “really going strong” when she was 100, and maintains, to this day, a very dry sense of humor.
“She wouldn’t go with me to the Presbyterian Church because she said she was Methodist,” Ratcliffe said. “I guess the word you’d say (to describe her) is eccentric — I guess it’s kind of in the blood.”
Bowman is on the mend from her hip surgery at River Trace Nursing and Rehabilitation.
“To me, she’s one of the more remarkable people I’ve ever encountered. To be 106?,” said Ratcliffe. “I can’t even count to 100.”

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