Bowman, at 90, finally gets around to entering 4-H fair project

William Bowman, of Markle, holds the pillow he created for the Huntington County 4-H Fair’s open class next to the loom he made it on. Entering something in the 4-H Fair fulfilled a lifelong goal for Bowman, who recently turned 90.
William Bowman, of Markle, holds the pillow he created for the Huntington County 4-H Fair’s open class next to the loom he made it on. Entering something in the 4-H Fair fulfilled a lifelong goal for Bowman, who recently turned 90. Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published July 28, 2015.

William Bowman always wanted to enter something in the Huntington County 4-H Fair.

This year, just days before his 90th birthday, he finally did.

Though Bowman has lived in Markle for most of his life, he grew up in Huntington. Residing within the city limits, he says, prevented him from participating in 4-H.

“We lived in town, in Huntington,” he says. “At that time, you couldn’t be in 4-H if you lived in town.”

So, Bowman sat on the outside looking in as friends who lived beyond Huntington participated in 4-H. When he had children, Bowman’s three daughters took part in 4-H, giving him the opportunity to live vicariously through them. One of his granddaughters went on to become a 4-H’er, too, and he was more than happy to lend a helping hand, particularly with her llama project.

“We hauled it 700 miles that year going to the 4-H meetings,” he says. “Huntington didn’t have llama 4-H, but Fort Wayne did. We would take the llama and go to Allen/DeKalb County Line Road.”

Bowman was so dedicated to assisting his granddaughter in 4-H that he didn’t mind transporting her llama in a comically unconventional manner.

“We didn’t own a truck,” recalls Bowman’s wife, Pat. “He had an older car. So, he took the back seat out of the car, put the llama in the back seat.

“And he got some strange looks going up 69 with a llama looking out the back window.”

After many years of watching friends and family take part in 4-H, Bowman had a realization last year that his window of opportunity to participate, too, wasn’t necessarily closed. He started looking into the open classes for adults. While doing a stained-glass project piqued his interest initially, Bowman ultimately decided to try his hand at weaving.

Confessing that he “knew nothing” about weaving when he selected the project, Bowman says his family supplied him with books on the topic that helped change that. Furthermore, his wife furnished him with a loom last September that enabled him to start learning by doing.
Bowman started out making scarves. From there, he moved on to placemats, purses and pillows.

Pleased with one of his pillows, in particular, Bowman decided to make that his long-awaited 4-H entry. Results were recently announced and his pillow earned a blue ribbon.

For as nice as a blue ribbon may be, Bowman came away from his 4-H experience with something even better: a new skill. He says weaving gave him something fun to do over the long winter months and that it’s something he intends to keep on doing.

“Every time they come,” he says, referencing his family, “I show them the next project.”

Bowman has been completing so many projects, in fact, that his family doesn’t have room for them. To that end, they’ve started an Etsy account for him, selling his wares online to give him money to purchase even more yarn. Aside from the Internet, his creations are also available at the weekly Downtown Farmers Market, in Huntington.

Bowman says his age never once discouraged him from participating in 4-H, at long last, and developing a new talent.

“I just always figured if somebody else could do something, I could do it,” he says. “That’s all I know.”