Marie “Billie” Bowling


Mrs. Marie Louise “Billie” Mitchell Bowling, 98, of Onancock, died peacefully at Winchester Medical Center May 15, 2021, following a short illness. A woman of remarkable spirit, she was the third of eight children of Hugh and Gertrude Mitchell, of Sugar Grove, W.Va. She was mother to James M. Bowling IV, of Charlottesville, Va., Ann Peff (Thomas, M.D.), of Jenkintown, Pa., and Jane Bowling-Wilson (Patton), of Sperryville, Va.   She and her late husband, James M. Bowling III, lived on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for their entire married life. She was the adoring grandmother of Lucas Wilson, Miriam Brady Sohlberg (Juha), Louise Manilla (Dominic), Eliza Casscells (Christopher), Thomas Peff (Kalynn), Adeline White (Jason), Catherine Thirolf (John), and the late Andrew Peff. She was the proud and cherished great-grandmother of Aino and Ellen Sohlberg; Leo and Bodhi Manilla; Lewa Drew, Matthew, Thomas, Virginia, Pia, and Adeline White; Billie, Rosemary, Harriet, and Frances Thirolf; and Vivienne Peff. She is survived by one brother, Samuel Thomas Mitchell (Paula), of Sugar Grove; and two sisters, Peggy Wade (late husband, Allen), of Dallas, Texas, and Anna Gae Hughes (late husband, John), of Harrisonburg, Va. She was predeceased by three sisters, Helon Pittsenbarger (Everett), Margene Moore (William), and Jacqueline Tristler (William); and one brother, Harold Mitchell (Ellen). Thirty-seven nieces and nephews added to her joy of being part of a big family.

Born Feb. 22, 1923, in Sugar Grove, she attended a one-room local elementary school and graduated from Franklin High School. Many generations of extended family lived in Sugar Grove; her ninth great-grandfather is said to have been the first Lutheran minister in West Virginia. Her father ran a farm and grain mill, Mitchell Mill, and her mother was educated as a teacher. Her later life was shaped and influenced by her faith and church, her connectedness to local community, and the challenges and rewards of farm life supported by family. An excellent student, she was a good shot with a rifle and loved participating in 4-H events, which fostered her love of trees and flowers. She enjoyed playing basketball and was on a bowling league. During WWII, she moved to Washington, D.C., where several of her sisters were nurses in the war effort. She obtained a business degree from Strayer Business College and worked for the selective service. She loved the energy of city life, new friends – who remained lifelong friends, fancy hotel parties, political culture of wartime, and sports, especially the Washington Senators baseball team. She attended their games regularly. One of her favorite stories was being asked to be General Eisenhower’s guide for the day.

She met her husband, Jim, in Washington, D.C., where he attended Catholic University after serving in the U.S. Navy. They were married in 1949 and moved to Accomac, on the Eastern Shore, where Jim joined an uncle in the automotive/boat business. Although she said she always missed the majesty of the West Virginia mountains and valleys, the Shore became her home and she fell in love with the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. An avid angler who loved spending the day on the water fishing, sailing, boating, or at the beach, she felt herself incredibly fortunate to enjoy the birds, wildlife, and gorgeous sunset over the water, right out her back door. In 1976, they embarked on an adventure, literally moving their home in Accomac, designed and built by historian Ralph Whitelaw, to a waterfront lot on Cedar Creek, Onancock. At age 94, she left her home to be closer to her children, and lived in an assisted living community first in Charlottesville and then in Front Royal, Va.

A past president of the Junior Woman’s Club of Accomack County, she was active in several garden clubs, a member of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church and choir and active in the Episcopal Women’s group, and the Eastern Shore Historical Society, serving as a docent at Kerr Place. Her lifelong interests included bridge, gardening, flower arranging, and traveling. She loved to read and encouraged and supported her children and grandchildren to continue their higher education. She worked for the Mental Health Association of the Eastern Shore in its infancy through its incorporation in the Accomack County Health Department.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the funeral will be conducted from the graveside at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery Saturday, May 24, 2021, at 1 p.m., limited to immediate family members, with the Rev. Ed Hunt officiating.

Donations may be made in her memory to the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society, P.O. Box 179, Onancock, VA 23417.

Memory tributes may be shared with the family at

Arrangements are by the Williams-Onancock Funeral Home.
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