Beverly Jean Fowler-Conner


Beverly Jean Fowler-Conner, 90, died Jan. 28, 2020, at Bethany Village in Lower Allen Township, where she had resided for some years. 

Born Jan. 19, 1930, in Guilford County, North Carolina, Mrs. Fowler-Conner was the daughter of the late Robert Wade and Alyce Coble Utley. She attended Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1951. She met her first husband, Robert H. Fowler, in 1948 at Guilford College. They were married for 52 years. In her lifetime, she was a school teacher, a newspaper columnist, and book review programmer for the New Cumberland Public Library. She served 12 years on the board of Bethany Village.

She is survived by four children and their spouses, Wade Utley Fowler (Sharon) of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania; Alyce Mundy McKenzie (Murry) of Allen, Texas; Robert H. Fowler Jr. (Sally) of Wallingford, Pennsylvania; and Susanna Jean Weil (Rob) of Hummelstown, Pennsylvania. Other survivors include: eight grandchildren, Melissa McKenzie of Fredericksburg, Texas; Sarah DeBrunner of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania; Rebecca Gingles of Dallas; Zachary Fowler of Silver Spring, Maryland; Matthew McKenzie of Broomfield, Colorado; Laura Fisher of New Cumberland; Ava Fowler of Wallingford; and Robert H. Fowler III of Wallingford. She is also survived by six great grandchildren, Cecelia, Reid and Eloise DeBrunner of Camp Hill; Dean Fowler of Silver Spring; and Graham and Silas Gingles of Dallas.

Mrs. Fowler-Conner was the widow of Robert Howard Fowler and of D. Bruce Conner, an educator who served as superintendent of the Capital Area Intermediate Unit. She was a lifelong United Methodist; a columnist for The News-Sun, Perry County Times, and Duncannon Record and a contributor to Guideposts magazine.

Through personal giving and through the Robert H. and Beverly U. Fowler Foundation, which she founded with her late first husband, she supported the arts and good causes in central Pennsylvania and beyond. WITF, the Harrisburg Symphony, New Cumberland Public Library, the Care Assurance Program at Bethany Village, and the Harrisburg Arts Association were among those who benefited from her generosity.

Mrs. Fowler-Conner enjoyed reading and writing and instilled that love in her children and grandchildren. She and her first husband traveled extensively in this country and to England, Europe, and Australia both on their own and on tours arranged by Historical Times Inc. a company they co-founded in the late 1950s. Historical Times Inc. published a variety of special interest magazines including Civil War Times Illustrated, American History Illustrated, Early American Life, British History Illustrated, Fly-Fisherman, and Bowhunter.

When she and her husband sold Historical Times, Inc. to Cowles Media Group in the 1980s, they turned to newspaper publishing, acquiring the Duncannon Record and Perry County Times from their longtime friend, Richard A. Swank. Thus began Swank-Fowler Publications Inc. a group of weekly newspapers that grew to include The News-Sun of Newport and the Juniata Sentinel of Mifflintown. She retired from the publishing business in 2001 when Swank-Fowler Publishing Inc. was sold to Advance Publications of Perry and Juniata Counties Inc. She also was the former owner of Perry Printing in New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania.

One of her life’s passions was the Chautauqua Institution in New York. She often summered there with family and friends and reveled in the music, lectures and intellectual atmosphere of that arts community. Throughout her life she maintained the carriage of a southern lady in speech and in manner. She was a gracious hostess, with a gift for making and keeping friends, a beloved mother, and an affectionate grandmother. Toward the end of her life, dementia robbed her of the ability to speak, but it did nothing to conceal the good woman who abided therein.

The staff in the Alzheimer’s unit at the Oaks at Bethany Village loved their encounters with the southern lady they called Miss Beverly. Her family is grateful for the care she received there. Memorial contributions may be made to WITF, the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, Chautauqua Institution, the Care Assurance Fund at Bethany Village, or the New Cumberland Public Library.

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