LEWISTON – Betty Lou Bowman O’Shea, former resident of Fountain Hills, passed away peacefully on Friday November 20, 2020 at her current residence in Lewiston, Maine. Betty was born November 14, 1931 to Walter V. Tolbert and Texie (Brumbeloe) Tolbert in La Mesa, Texas.
Betty was the youngest of nine children raised in Texas during the Great Depression. Betty’s father, a self-taught country veterinarian and amateur musician, would stage small concerts on the town’s band stand that featured Betty as a singer. At the age of 12, as a way to earn money for the family, Betty left home to go on a USO tour performing with a band that entertained soldiers at different military bases through out the southern Untied States. Following the war, she continued to tour as a vocalist through the south with a band made up of African American musicians, who she later credited as having “raised me”.
While on tour she met her husband, George Bowman. She was 19 when they married and moved to Cortez, Colorado, to begin a family. Betty worked for the Ute Mountain Tribe running their recreation center, which prompted her to become a WSI certified lifeguard and swim coach, as well as an instructor in Judo. In 1965, Betty won the Western Slope Swim Team Coach Award for her work with teenage swimmers of the Ute tribe, the first time a native sport team had received statewide recognition. This period on the reservation inspired a lifelong journey seeking other cultures, studying ancient wisdom, learning from elders and finding the common threads in the world’s great religions. Although she received very little formal education, Betty was a voracious self-learner. Throughout her life, Betty studied Catholicism, Buddhism and Taoism. She trained with medicine men of numerous Native American tribes, and was very close to Chief Manygoats of the Navajo nation. She was a proficient practitioner of Feng Shui, and earned certifications in massage therapy, hypnotherapy and Nuero Linguistic Programing. In 1997 she traveled to Hawaii to study Huna shamanism, and where she solo hiked the challenging and volcanic Puna Kau to Apua Point Trail, an important rite of passage in the Huna belief system. At age 71, she was granted a Doctor of Divinity from The United New Thought Seminary.
After moving to Los Angeles, following the passing of her first husband, George, Betty married Patrick O’Shea, and began to learn the art of restaurant management. Betty and Patrick moved back to Cortez and opened their own place, O’Shea’s in 1974, which they operated together for five years.
In 1979 Betty returned to Los Angeles where she began to work in the local restaurant industry, but soon found herself in the business office of Cashbox Magazine, where she crossed paths with many well-known recording artists. From there she become the assistant to the owner of The Palm, an elite West Hollywood restaurant known at the time as a meeting spot for celebrities. The Palm wanted to expand and so Betty traveled the country overseeing the opening of new locations in large cities, hiring and training their staff. Also during this time, The Palm owner, wanting to make an impression on the ascendant Republican Party, tasked Betty with organizing several fund raising events for the GOP, which gave her opportunity to befriend Barbara Bush and George H.W. Bush. In 1993, Betty retired from The Palm and relocated to Arizona, with excursions to Hawaii, Long Island, N.Y., and Maine.
Betty loved music, dance, good food, friends, nature and all animals. She could be painfully shy and at other times, extremely outspoken, but she was always spiritual. We would joke that “Betty was New Age before New Age was new”
Mom always said, “Do not mourn my passing. If you want to have a party to celebrate my life, that would be fine. And if you want to give me flowers, give them to me now so I can enjoy them.”
In keeping with her wishes, and being the responsible women she raised us to be, we will be planning a Celebration of Life in the not too distant future where we’ll have a party with music, dancing and lots of joyful hugs.
Betty is preceded in death by her parents, Walter and Texie, her five sisters: Golda Bell, Opal, Lola Alene, Bonnie and Hazel Christine, her three brothers: Walter Clyde, Ronald and William; as well as her first husband, George H. Bowman and her son, George H. Bowman Jr., and her second husband, Patrick O’Shea.
She is survived by her daughter, Odelle Bowman and son-in-law Michael Reidy of Lewiston, Maine; daughter, Lellanette Bowman of Fountain Hills and grandchildren, John-Michael Ferraro, Seattle, Wash., and Jessica Reidy, Queens, N.Y.
In lieu of flowers please send donations to: Androscoggin Home Health Care and Hospice,
15 Strawberry Avenue,
Lewiston, Maine, 04240.