Dorothy Keith Bowers of Gulf Breeze passed away on Feb. 19, 2019, at age 85. Dorothy's lifelong passions included buying and selling antiques, restoring and refinishing furniture, collecting old kitchenware and cultural artifacts, creating art, traveling, listening to music and sharing laughter and love with a network of lifelong friends and family that reached from New England to Florida to California to the Pacific Northwest.
Dorothy was born in Pensacola on August 3, 1933 to Roscoe and Ida Keith. After graduating from Mississippi College and living for a time in Pensacola Beach, in 1962 she married a U.S. Navy pilot, John M. Bowers, Jr., a native Tennessean who was then a flight instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The locations Dorothy called home during her time as a military wife include Pensacola; Key West, North Kingstown, R.I., Orange Park, Fla., Alameda, Calif. and Charleston, S.C. She also lived for more than a decade in Lebanon, Tenn., returning to Florida around 2004. Dorothy maintained close friendships with Navy wives and officers throughout her travels and also added fellow antiques dealers to her social and professional networks. She owned or co-owned two antiques stores, including Three Bags Full in Orange Park (which she operated with two friends) and The Tin Pig in Lebanon. She sold merchandise at various antiques malls in New England, Florida and Tennessee over the years.
Considering underprivileged people and helping those in need was a theme throughout Dorothy's life. She always sympathized with those outcast or disadvantaged, expressing kindness and compassion however she could. Among other efforts, she volunteered at the Interfaith Ministries Thrift Shop in Gulf Breeze, and for years she devoted time to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing financial and educational assistance to service members.
Dorothy was ever fascinated and entertained by stories from the colorful characters she met. She often recounted tales of suspected hauntings in old New England homes or colossally embarrassing pratfalls in public places. Creativity was a driving force in her life as well. In addition to restoring furniture, she enjoyed drawing, oil painting, writing poetry, stencil and gravestone-rubbing. She was often open to trying new and adventurous things, no matter the outcome. She once took a ride in a hot-air balloon, for example, and loved it. She also tried downhill skiing—and hated it. Music was another of her many lifelong enjoyments. Her favorite recording artists included Nina Simone, Ahmad Jamal, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.
Dorothy is survived by a sister, Grace Barry of Pensacola; a brother, Roscoe "Bucky" Keith of Hernando Beach, Fla.; many loving nieces and nephews; an ex-husband, John M. Bowers Jr. of Lebanon, Tenn.; and two sons, John M Bowers, III of Oakland, Calif., and Keith Bowers of Corvallis, Ore.
A special thank-you goes out to a niece, Patsy Smith and her husband, Connie "Smitty" Smith of Gulf Breeze, as well as caregiver Victoria Danks, who made extraordinary efforts to ensure Dorothy was loved and comfortable in her final years. Thanks also goes out to the staff of Bay Breeze Senior Living and Rehabilitation Center where Dorothy had lived since mid-2018.
A Memorial Service will be held on Monday, February 25, 2019 at the First Baptist Church of Pensacola, 500 N. Palafox Street, Pensacola, Florida 32501. Visitation will be held from 1:00 - 2:00 pm with the service to follow at 2:00 pm.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Children's Ministry, First Baptist Church of Pensacola, 500 N. Palafox Street, Pensacola, FL 32501, or Interfaith Ministries, 4435 Highway 98, Gulf Breeze, FL 32563.