Elmer Bowling, former STAR employee, dies at age 86
Published 11:42 am Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Elmer Bowling, a former vice president and production manager at the Elizabethton STAR, died Sunday following a brief illness. He was 86 years old.
Elmer’s career at the STAR spanned 57 years. He began working at the STAR when a young boy. He often shared that his first job was pulling a little red wagon full of mail and papers to the post office for 10 cents a week. He later would go in and before and after school and clean the floors, light the linotypes, empty the garbage, and do various other jobs.
During his 50-plus years at the STAR, Elmer worked at almost every job there – the pressroom, circulation, composing room, advertising director, and was vice president of operations at the time of his retirement.
His time at the newspaper came and went before computers, during an era when it was much more difficult to put a newspaper together. Everyday he worked against a deadline. More than once he raced against a deadline to fix a broken press or a piece of other equipment, and to soothe a disgruntled worker’s feelings. He competed with time everyday.
Former employees remember him as a “kind man and patient man, easy to work for, and loyal to the STAR.”
He came early and worked late, usually Monday through Saturday.
In fact, it was while working at the newspaper, when the STAR office was located next to the Elizabethton Steam Laundry on N. Main Street, that he met his wife, Lillian. Lillian worked at the laundry and when Elmer finished his shift at the newspaper he would go over to the laundry and work.
They married in 1947 and were sweethearts until her death in 2005.
Soon after they were married, Elmer and Lillian built a small home on Phillips Street in Cat Island and that is where they raised their five children – Carroll, Dale, Lois, Jackie and Freddie.
When Urban Renewal came in 1970s, Elmer was displaced from his Cat Island home. He and Lillian packed up their belongings and moved to a home on Thomas Blvd., where he was living at the time of his death.
When Lillian suffered a debilitating stroke in January of 1998, Elmer spent day and night at the hospital by her side. When she was moved to a local nursing home he visited her every day, most days, twice. In fact, he went to the nursing home just like he did his job. He would go around 8:15 a.m. and stay until noon or after, come home and eat and do some things around the house, then go back and stay until 6 p.m. or later. Sunday, he went and spent time with Lillian until church time. After church, he went back to the nursing home and stayed the remainder of the day with Lillian.
Family members remember that before Lillian became sick, she and Elmer enjoyed riding around on Sunday afternoons.
In addition to his work, Elmer was very active in Little League and Babe Ruth League baseball while his sons were growing up.
He also enjoyed fishing, skiing, and bowling.
His oldest son, Carroll, when just a teenager, drowned in the Doe River not far from where he lived. Elmer often talked fondly of Carroll, and said through that difficult time his faith became stronger, preparing him for the sickness and death of Lillian.
Elmer was a long-time member of East Side Baptist Church, where he formerly served as a deacon.
He was preceded in death by his wife, a son, Carroll, five brothers and two sisters.
The funeral service for Elmer Bowling will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Chapel of Peace at Tetrick Funeral Home. The graveside service will be Friday at 10 a.m. at Happy Valley Memorial Park.