Over the weekend, I learned of the passing of Marie Fowler, one of the City’s most prominent and dedicated community leaders. Ms. Fowler’s title, president of the West End Community Conference, only hinted at the degree of her involvement in our public life. She was a tireless force for the City’s children and families, lending her name and energy to dozens of efforts to use art, education, religious, and cultural programs to capture young people’s interest and build stronger communities.
Her West End neighborhood is and was an important chapter of the City’s history. During the 60s and 70s, many of its anchors were pulled up by their directors and congregations and reestablished in other parts of the region. What they left behind were some wonderful buildings, a community tradition that valued the arts . . . and Marie Fowler.
Slowly, but certainly not patiently, Marie Fowler set about the tasks of building and rebuilding the West End. She attracted like-minded individuals to her causes. She measured her successes practically: the number of new homeowners, the percentage of high school and college graduates, the quality of rec center programs, the volume of the joyful music made, the height of the new trees . . .
There is already a City park, really a neighborhood garden, that bears Marie Fowler’s name. An even more apt legacy, though, are the thousands of St. Louisans, including her son Flint Fowler, who learned to embrace a culture, rebuild a neighborhood, and cherish a City because of her strength and wisdom.
I extend my sympathy to her family and other friends.