Virginia Ware Stowe, 95, a resident of Tenafly, New Jersey, from 1963 until 2005, and church historian in the 1980s and 1990s, died July 20, 2018 in Ephrata, Pennsylvania.
Mrs. Stowe was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1923, the eldest child of Harold Ware and Anne Holmes Ware. She grew up in the Los Angeles area. As a young woman Virginia was a skilled pianist and school leader, the second “girl” elected president of her high school in Alhambra, CA. She entered Occidental College as a 16-year old and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Following her graduation in 1943, Virginia married the love of her life, David M. Stowe, with whom she shared 56 years of happy married life until his death in 2000.
Virginia and David Stowe spent 1947-1950 in China as mission co-workers commissioned by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, now Global Ministries. They were assigned to the North China Mission in Tianjin, and at Yenching University in Beijing. Virginia taught classes, and contributed as a church musician on the piano and organ. Following their return to the U.S., Virginia accompanied David to jobs in Minnesota and Boston. They also spent a period 1962-1963 at the Near East School of Theology (NEST) in Beirut, Lebanon, under the auspices of the United Church Board for World Ministries (UCBWM), also a predecessor mission body of Global Ministries.
The Stowes ended up in Tenafly, New Jersey where Virginia lived in and renovated an historic home, raised four children, and became a pillar of her local church and community. She served as a president of the local Church Women United, and on Tenafly’s historic preservation committee. After David’s retirement from the United Church Board for World Missions (UCBWM), Virginia became the unofficial archivist and historian of the mission board, founder of the David M. Stowe Mission Fund at Yale Divinity School, and a resource person for two more generations of United Church of Christ leaders.
Virginia saw beauty in every aspect of life.She expressed that love in her gardens, her interest in the life stories of everyone she met, her fashion sense, and her lifelong commitment to learning, music, and art.
Virginia Stowe is survived by four children (Nancy Stowe Inui, Elizabeth Hambrick-Stowe, Priscilla Hoffman-Stowe, and David Ware Stowe) and their partners, eight grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and many relatives and friends.
Virginia Stowe’s life will be celebrated at a memorial service on November 10, 2018 from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at the chapel of the Newton Cemetery, 79 Walnut St., Newton Centre, MA. Her ashes will be interred at the American Board missionary cemetery plot in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. Condolences to the family may be sent to Nancy Stowe Inui, 1338 North New Jersey Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202. Memorial gifts may be sent to: David M. Stowe Fund for Mission Research, Yale Divinity School, P.O. Box 2038, New Haven CT 06521.