James Monroe Sowell, Jr. passed away in Austin, Texas, on November 21, 2018, after a year-long battle with AL Leukemia he likely contracted from exposure to chemicals while working in power plants as an engineer. He was 74. He had been a resident of Texas for 25 years.
Mr. Sowell was born in Downey, California, on May 23, 1944, to James Monroe Sowell and Eva “Emma” Loretta Ramey-Sowell. He grew up in Whittier and attended Whittier High School and the University of Hawai’i. He married twice – first to Karen Johnson from 1970 to 1989, and then to Millie Sowell from 2000 to 2018. He served for more than twenty years in the Navy (1961 – 67), the Army, and the Army Reserves, and was a Vietnam veteran. He served his country in many ways for many years, and led his family with warmth, love, and humor for his entire life.
Jim was a private person, but those close to him knew him to be generous and caring, ready to do anything to help. He was a BBQ master, home handyman, goat rancher, and motorcycle maniac; he taught his daughter Jana to ride her own tiny motorcycle when she was 5 or 6. He was also a gunsmith and member of the Austin Rifle Club. He loved to shoot; his favorite gun to shoot was the M1-A. A citizen of the world, Jim loved to travel, and had visited South Korea, Scotland, and Australia, among many other places. France was his favorite place. He lived for road trips and thought nothing of driving from Denver to Texas in one stretch, or riding all the way from Texas to Colorado on his motorcycle. He absolutely couldn’t sit still; if he wasn’t traveling, he was working on home improvement projects. Even while he was ill, he singlehandedly built a deck. He also loved music, and spent a lot of time at the Continental Club in Austin, seeing performers like Lyle Lovett, Mojo Nixon and David Byrne.
Mr. Sowell is survived by his daughter, Jana (Bryan) O'Donnell of Broomfield, CO and her children, Mason, Brycen, and Vivienne; his daughter Erin (CJ) Williams of Aurora, CO and her children, Shayla, Kelsey, Christopher James; and his son Matthew Thorp of Sydney, Australia.
His family would like to extend their thanks to Return to Nature Funeral Home and to Melissa at The Modern Mortician.
A memorial fund has been set up for Mr. Sowell’s family to help with his final expenses. In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation. (https://www.gofundme.com/help-jana-bury-her-dad)