Harriet W. Cowdery

Posted:  Monday, June 18, 2018 - 3:30pm

Harriet Whitney (Callard) Cowdery of Boothbay Harbor died June 11, 2018 at home with family by her side.  

Born in Boston, Massachusetts on June 23, 1926, Harriet grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, near former Norembega Park where famous musicians and big bands performed at the Totem Pole Ballroom. For years, she would surprise her children by knowing all or most of the words to obscure or classic songs.

She graduated New England Baptist Nursing School as a registered nurse, joining the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps (which by 1945 provided 80 percent of nursing care in U.S. hospitals during World War II). She left nursing to raise her family in Ohio and then Massachusetts, and in the late ’60s earned her recertification, working in nursing home and private duty care for the next 20 years.

An avid seamstress and crafter since childhood, Harriet would later become the main costume designer for many recitals and children theatres. While traveling to Nova Scotia, she discovered the craft of appleheads, carving faces into peeled apples and drying them, which led to her Applehead Characters business. Over decades, she made the heads, bendable bodies, and clothes for hundreds of applehead dolls of various professions and activities, and was chosen by many fundraiser craft shows to demonstrate this colonial craft. She also gave lessons, always wearing her colonial costume of bonnet, long skirt and apron, and was interviewed and photographed for many newspapers and local cable TV. Her dolls have been sent around the world and sometimes to well known people.  Harriet was especially thrilled to meet her hero, astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn and present a doll to his wife.

While she and her husband lived in Tampa, Florida, Harriet sewed new clothes for dolls and stuffed animals, and would donate the toys to a family shelter which celebrated their efforts in a local documentary. At a craft show at the Boothbay Railway Village, during breaks from selling items, Harriet walked her rollater around the fair, giving away bags she created for walkers and wheelchairs. She donated many of these bags to St. Andrews, where she also volunteered.

Harriet was predeceased by her husband of 52 years James Ronald Cowdery, and her sister Rev. Polly Guild. 

She is survived by her sister, Margo Callard of Needham, Massachusetts; and her children: daughter Martha Cowdery and Michael Tomko of Boothbay Harbor; daughter, Marjorie Cowdery and Fred Mullen of Arlington, Massachusetts; son, Jim Cowdery and Joanna Doyle of Kingston, New Hampshire; and son, John Cowdery and Glynnis Cowdery of Walnut Creek, California.  She also leaves grandchildren Jamie Cowdery, Whitney Lytle and Alex Anderson, Erica Lytle, Henry Cowdery, Callard Cowdery, and great granddaughter Eben Anderson.  She is also survived by niece Lorna Laughland Winthrop and Griff Winthrop; niece Linda Laughland and Dan Downing; and nephew Drew Laughland and Barb Gage; and all their families.  She also leaves former Austrian exchange student Dr. Ingrid Franze and three children of Storm Lake, Iowa; and her beloved friend of ninety years Nanette Wright of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Harriet and family lived in Ohio, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Kentuck, and Tampa, but her home in Boothbay Harbor brought constant joy with many new friends and activities, including the Potluck Parties, Awesome Senior Walkers, Boothbay Region Senior Citizens Club, and most especially her very close friends of Girls Game Night.

Her family extends heartfelt thanks to Harriet's hospice nurses and all her caregivers for their gentle help and compassion.

A memorial will be scheduled at a later date.  In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to New Hope for Women, St. Andrews Auxiliary, or the Lincoln County Animal Shelter.