Twenty-seven-year-old Ashley Nicole Bowers, of Dublin, fought a three year battle with leukemia before it ended Sept. 5, 2013. She was a 2004 graduate of Pulaski County High School, and received her nursing degree from New River Community College just months before her death. Some of those who knew Bowers best and loved her most shared their feelings and memories of her.
“I met Ashley when she was in the first grade at Claremont Elementary School. Her mom, Nancy Bowers, and I both volunteered to work with Girl Scouts,” remembers longtime friend and Girl Scout leader, Donna Travis. “My daughter was also in the first grade at Claremont. Nancy and I were Girl Scout leaders for 12 years (until the girls graduated from high school), along with Glenda Anderson whose daughter, Amber Lane, was also in the first grade. We all became very close.
“Ashley was always very sweet and very funny. She knew how to make everybody laugh. She was a good friend to all of the girls and was always ready to help in any way. I don’t ever remember having to fuss at Ashley one time in the entire 12 years she was in my troop. I don’t ever remember her being mad,” said Travis. “We affectionately called her ‘Ashie B.’ From the sixth through ninth grade, Ashley helped at Girl Scout camp. She worked each summer with younger girls from Pulaski County when the girls gathered at Alta Mons in Shawsville. She also helped when she was in eighth grade with a Brownie troop at Community Christian Church in Newbern. She loved doing crafts with the younger girls and playing games.”
“Ashley was like a daughter to me, the daughter that I never had. We spent a lot of time together, and she and my son were like brother and sister,” said Pam Hurd, self-proclaimed “second mother” to Bowers. “She always had a smile on her face, no matter the circumstance. She had a very positive attitude. Loved being around family and friends and never met a stranger. She could always make you smile, and I just loved her to death.”
“When Ashley was in the 10th grade in October of 2001, she and my daughter earned the Silver Award – the second highest award in Girl Scouts,” said Travis. “They planned a Memorial Ceremony at Randolph Park in memory of the victims killed on 9/11. They worked together to get special speakers, police officers, musicians, etc. to participate. They planted a tree that is still there at the park. Many times our troop went to Fairview Home and Highland Manor Nursing Home. Whenever we did, Ashley always was talking with the residents and interacting with them. She seemed to be very at ease around people of all ages.”
Steve Willis, Bowers’ pastor at Valley Harvest Ministries, where she attended church, also remembers her fondly. “As I remember her, I remember that big smile she always had. She was always a positive person … and had a great faith in God,” Willis said. “I think she had a very positive impact on anybody she was around because she didn’t let her circumstances change the way she was. She was just always very positive and pleasant to be around. Always a lot of fun.”
Travis agrees with Willis and Hurd about Bowers’ unfaltering positive attitude. “One of the things I always appreciated about Ashley was her positive outlook, never complaining or whining … always ready to help in any way,” said Travis, “and it didn’t stop when it was discovered in June of 2010 that she had leukemia. I visited her at UVA just a few days after the diagnosis. She had just been given such horrible news … yet, she was still positive, still joking. I felt better when I left there; her positive attitude made me feel better! Every time I saw her, either in the hospital or running into her at Walmart (where she worked), she always had a smile.”