Letha (Erickson) McDowell

Letha McDowell was born on October 20th, 1916, to Carl Erickson and Virginia (Cope) Erickson.

She grew up on a farm in Memphis, Nebraska, and drove a horse and buggy to a one-room school with her three sisters. She was never fond of horses after that!

She was a child of the Great Depression and when her parents could no longer afford to send her to high school, she moved to Los Angeles, California her senior year to finish school. She lived with her aunt and uncle and worked as their maid to earn her keep. She graduated from Manual Arts High School in downtown Los Angeles in 1934 with a full scholarship in nursing. She loved California but had to move back to Nebraska and sadly returned the scholarship after her uncle no longer needed her help.

She met her husband Ralph McDowell in Greenwood, Nebraska, and they wed on May 14th, 1938. They had three children and were married until he passed in 1974. Letha worked hard her entire life, never had help from anyone and not once did she complain. She worked as a bookkeeper, cleaned a laundromat and did whatever she could to make ends meet.

She was hired in 1964 as a sales clerk for Warden’s clothing store in downtown Salina. She loved it and the customers loved her! Paul and Mary Warden took her to Dallas market every year to help buy for the store. She retired from Wardens at the age of 76.

She was an active member of the First Christian Church in Salina for decades. She loved her family dearly and put them ahead of herself. She was the heart of her family; her humble life, unbelievable strength, strong will and unconditional love has served as an inspiration to them.

Letha was preceded in death by her son, Gary; husband; Ralph; and son-in-law, Pete Peterson. She is survived by daughters, Pat Peterson and Donna Baxter; son-in-law, Reese Baxter; five grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. She was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Greenwood, Nebraska, on March 1st, 2023.

Donations may be made in remembrance of Letha to the First Christian Church, Salina, KS.

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