Eveleth Cooper Cowles, 93, of Stow, Massachusetts, died at 6 a..m. on December 1, 2019 at the Life Care Center of Acton, after a month of failing health. She had prided herself in living the way she wanted—she had faithfully used a walker to ‘scamper about’ independently at home.
Not many 93-year-olds get by on a single prescription medicine. She attributed her longevity to a Mediterranean diet; but equally important was the interest she had in many world political issues, such as overpopulation and equality for women. She lost her sense of smell, much of her hearing, and was legally blind, but was keenly aware of the political uproar of recent years. Her pithy prediction that the present president, if given enough rope, would hang himself, was common-sense comfort to her family. She did not suffer fools gladly.
She enthusiastically listened to the scientific details of her son’s efforts in Connecticut to improve honeybee health. She enjoyed hearing about her youngest daughter’s discoveries about arachnid behavior in Arizona. She had an enormous vocabulary, and could skunk the younger generation with obscure Jeopardy! questions.
Evvie was born on August 20, 1926, in New Haven, Connecticut, to Laura Jones Cooper and Edward Irving Cooper. A deep-seated sense of abandonment caused by her father's death in 1930 led her to channel her energies into learning. She had a peripatetic childhood, her family living wherever her stepfather, Mario Rendina, found inspiration as an artist. They lived in Spain, Capri, Tunis, and St. Thomas. Her family escaped from Europe shortly before World War II broke out—they left Antwerp in August 1939, on a ship that held Jewish refugees escaping to America. She always encouraged our family to welcome all.
She met her future husband, Jack Cowles, at Mass State in Amherst, where she beat him in a ping-pong game while waiting for the dining commons to open. He took notice and never looked back. They were married for a happy 69 years, in which she raised five children and many Siamese kittens. Evvie noticed there was nothing practical to guide people through the breeding and birthing and raising of purebred cats, so she wrote one focused on Siamese cats. The book, ‘‘A Manual for Cat Breeders,’’ has made its way around the world, including to Thailand, the originating country of the Siamese cat.
Evvie and Jack were both avid horticulturists. One day, he suggested she try her hand at painting a watercolor of an orchid from his workplace. She improved her technique with advice from an illustrator friend, Elmer Smith. She knocked off about a hundred watercolors of orchids within five years. She had a good eye for composition, proportion, colors, and detail. Her daughter, Jillian Cowles, put together a book on Eveleth’s watercolors. And Evvie was tremendously proud of Jillian’s own book on arachnids, which she read cover-to-cover.
Eveleth is survived by daughter Susan Cowles and her sweetheart, Raymond Merkh; daughter Jillian Cowles and her husband, Bill Savary; son Richard Cowles and his wife, Elizabeth; a grandson, Cyrille Early and his wife, Wendy; two granddaughters, Erin Niehoff and her husband, Matt; Alyssa Blachez and her husband, Paul; and two great-grandsons, Evan Early and Jacob Early; sister Judy Chamberlain; sister, Laura (Lolly) Eadens and husband, Jim; and brother, Mario (Gigi) Rendina and wife, Lois. Also survived by nieces and nephews and their families.
Eveleth was predeceased by her husband, Jack; an infant daughter; her oldest daughter, Laura Hill; her older son, Edward Cowles; and her brother, David Cooper.
A service to place the ashes of Jack and Evvie in a final resting place will be held June 13, in Ipswich, Massachusetts, at the Cowles Memorial Cemetery.
Donations in Evvie’s memory may be made to the Stow Council on Aging, or to Planned Parenthood.
Memorial page actonfuneralhome.com