Carson City woman turning 100 this week

Carson City resident Nora Lee is turning a century old on Tuesday.

Nora, the only child of Katherine and Albert Bowen, was born on Oct. 28, 1914 in Nashua, Iowa. Her family owned a three-story wool mill, where as a child Nora recalls playing among the piles of wool. When she was 11, the mill was lost in a fire, and the Bowens moved to Cedar Falls, where she later earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education at the Iowa State Teachers College, now the University of Northern Iowa.

Nora excelled in school and was a member of Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society, Charter President of Sigma Alpha Iota and named Senior Honor Woman at Northwestern University, where she earned her Master of Arts in Education. She began studying for her doctorate but had to leave school and return to Cedar Falls to be with her mother when her father passed away.

Throughout her teaching career, Nora taught courses in physical education, music, art and children’s literature in Des Moines and Waterloo, Iowa, and Onalaska, Wash, where she met her husband, Irvin Lee, a research engineer for John Deere & Co., prior to World War II.

After marrying, the Lees moved back to Cedar Falls, where Nora became supervisor of teachers and Irvin worked in nearby Waterloo.

Through the years, the couple enjoyed many adventures around the world, which they explored three times via the Northern, Central and Southern routes. Despite growing up and working in northern states, Nora prefers warm weather, so one of her most vivid travel memories is at the Great Wall of China, where she was under dressed and almost froze. Despite her aversion to ice and snow, Nora adores penguins and has quite a collection.

Upon retirement, the Lees gave up cold winters for good; Irvin pursued tennis and Nora golfed during winters in Sun City, Ariz., and their summers were spent in Seattle. Irvin passed away in 1993 and Nora moved to Sierra Place Senior Living in 2005 to be closer to her nephew, Charles Barnett of Carson City.

When asked her secret to longevity, Nora credits her “excellent parents,” even if they did make her go to a Catholic church, which she disliked because she had to wear a hat. Nora’s nephew, Chuck, suspects her real secret is See’s candy and rocky road ice cream.


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