Sumner, Rose Sowers

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Rose Ellen Sowers Sumner began her life journey on April 8, 1917, a snowy Easter Sunday. Born to Hestle Alexander and Harriett Lillian Scott Sowers in Floyd, Rose Ellen spent her childhood there and graduated from Floyd County High School.

On September 14, 1935, she married John Wilson Sumner, a cadet at V.P.I. who was also from Floyd. After John’s graduation, they made their home in Wytheville. When John was called to active duty during World War II, Rose accompanied her husband to posts in Williamsburg, Va.; Newport, R.I.; Cape Cod, Mass.; Jessup, Ga.; and New Orleans, La.

Following the war, Rose and John made their home in Christiansburg. Both Rose and John were active in the community and Christiansburg Presbyterian Church. Rose Ellen was one of the first women to serve on the Board of Deacons and Session at Christiansburg Presbyterian Church. She and John were longtime members of the Chancel Choir, and Rose continued to sing with the choir into her 80’s.

Rose and John enjoyed V.P.I. football during his college years, and Rose remained an avid fan of Virginia Tech football the remainder of her life and enjoyed occasional trips to the Hokie Hotline. During this year’s ECU game, she stated that she hoped the Hokies would figure out how to win that game.

Early in 1956, Rose and John adopted Bonnie Ellen, the first of their two daughters. In 1957, they brought Amy Lisa home. Rose and John provided a loving, secure and supportive home for their daughters. As someone who lived during the Great Depression, Rose was frugal and independent. An extraordinary seamstress, she fashioned clothes for Bonnie, Amy and herself. Rose also made draperies, valances, pillow cushions and other items that decorated her home.

Her artistic flair was evident in the still life and landscape paintings she created with oils, pastels and water color. Elegant floral arrangements Rose created from garden flowers or wild flowers brought a breath of fresh air indoors. She was a jack-of-all-trades — painting the walls and trim of her home, small carpentry projects, gardening and canning.

Rose and John, along with several other couples, organized the Christiansburg Cotillion Club. Another pastime Rose enjoyed was playing bridge with friends, and she belonged to several bridge groups throughout the years.

When age and Parkinson’s Disease began to weaken her body, Rose responded with grace and dignity. Her ability to accept and live with her limitations has been an inspiration to all who knew her. Rose’s generous heart, sincere smile, compassion for others, and devotion to God will be traits for which she will long be remembered.

Rose Ellen passed away quietly at home on Wednesday, September 21, 2011, with Bonnie, Amy and Pastor Don Makin by her side. Along with daughters, Bonnie Ellen Sumner and Amy Sumner Criner, she is survived by grandchildren Bradley Wilson Baker and Samantha Scott Baker, son-in-law Mark Nixon Criner, Edgar David de LeÃn Izeppi, Duront and Susan Walton, Fox Walton and fiance Jessica Cleotelis, Thomas and Abby Walton, Tommy and Amanda Walton, Captain Andrew Walton, Ross Walton, Nancy Nixon; goddaughter Meg T. James, Sally (Knoke) and Gene Carter, Scott and Charlotte Knoke, Paul Knoke, Mr. and Mrs. David Knoke, Lisa Mattox and her daughter Lucille Rose, and Nick Pirro.

Rose Ellen was a devoted and loving friend to many, and her friends were true blessings who enriched her life. Health care professionals Dr. J. Michael Payne, Dr. Jill Cramer, Dr. Stephen Hudgins and Dr. Richard Anthony were committed in their care and concern for Rose Ellen as she transitioned through the stages of her disease. Dr. Don Makin, pastor of Christiansburg Presbyterian Church, was steadfast in his support of Rose and her family.

She was blessed to have been lovingly cared for in her home by a number of professionals the past several years, but most recently, Shanna Montgomery, Peggy Waddell, Kimberly Weeks, and Sherri Boydton attended her. The staff of Creative Looks took special care of Rose Ellen each week when she went to have her hair fixed. Shirley Akers of Good Samaritan Hospice always came to see Rose with a smile and uplifting nature.

In remembrance of Rose Ellen, please remain committed and caring to those around you. In lieu of flowers at her service, please consider sending flowers to someone dear to you or making a memorial gift to the Christiansburg Presbyterian Church or an organization meaningful to you.

Rose Ellen’s family will celebrate her life at a memorial service at 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 24, 2011, in the sanctuary of Christiansburg Presbyterian Church. In remembrance of her enjoyment of life, it is hoped those attending the service will dress in bright colors. Her family will greet friends in the fellowship hall of Christiansburg Presbyterian Church following the service.