El Portal activist and volunteer Libby Bowen dies at 94

 
 
Elizabeth “Libby” Bowen
Elizabeth “Libby” Bowen

Special to the Miami Herald

Whether it was cooking for 400 people or assisting the mentally disabled, Elizabeth "Libby" Bowen dedicated her life to volunteering.

She also kept a watchful eye on local government, almost never missing an El Portal council meeting, where she would alternately would voice her opinion and crochet.

Bowen, a village of El Portal resident since the 1950s, died at North Shore Hospital on Feb. 27. She was 94.

Born in Georgia, she was married for 40 years to Forrest Bowen Sr., a former village mayor and councilman. She moved to Florida after World War II.

Right after high school graduation, she was awarded a scholarship to Southern College in Lakeland, but gave it up to work on the Miami transit system. She also joined Beta Sigma Phi, an international nonacademic sorority, and was active in a women’s club mission to feed the elderly. She later left her transit position at to take care of her son.

Bowen, who played for her high school girls basketball team in the late 1930s, lived in North Miami before moving to El Portal.

She is credited with helping developing the county's first Citizen's Crime Watch. For more than 25 years, she volunteered at nearby Little River Elementary.

"She had a good soul," her son Forrest said. "She was a good person that enjoyed doing good things for people and expected nothing in return."

She was the first woman to work at the Kendall Children's Home for the blind and deaf, and choreographed Patriots and Petticoats for the American bicentennial.

The Miami-Dade County Commission recognized Bowen for her 50 years of volunteer service in 2006.

Her friend of close to 50 years and El Portal resident Jackie Anderson said Bowen's determination was to assist others.

"She wasn't happy unless she was helping somebody else," she said. "It seemed that was her aim. That was her mission in life to help other people. She helped her neighbors."

Bowen is survived by son Forrest H. Bowen II, brother William Taylor and sister Jewell Hughes, who live in Tampa.

A service will be held at noon Saturday at El Portal Village Hall, 500 NE 87th St. For information contact 305-333-3916.

Read more Obituaries - Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

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