Gary Dowell strives to keep traditions alive

Friday, January 24, 2014
Gary Dowell, a member of the Missouri State Corn Husking Association team that organizes the annual corn husking competition, examines a relatively good ear of corn from the field where the corn husking competition will take place on Sept. 22, 2012. (File photo by Eric Crump/Democrat-News)

Gary Dowell stays in constant touch with the community of Marshall by investing his time and energy in helping others to keep traditions alive.

Carolyn Taylor said she has known Dowell since she could remember because they are both from Miami. Together, they are on the Saline County Fair Association, the Missouri State Cornhusking Association and Taylor said he has helped her out when she was in charge of the Saddle Club.

"Gary's just there whenever you need him for whatever you need him," Taylor said. "During the fair, he almost lives out there full-time fixing things. Anytime anything needs to be done, they call on Gary and that's almost a thankless job. There's no pay, no nothing included. He just does that out of the goodness of his heart."

Dowell said he supposes his desire to help out the community and keep traditions alive comes from watching it by example when he was younger. He spoke about the way his family, including his mother and the neighbors in the community, would always work together to help one other.

His involvement and experiences in 4-H, FFA and Boy Scouts of America also solidified his ties to the community.

Dowell was born on Aug. 28, 1942, in Thomas Hill, in Randolph County. He said the Thomas Hill and Randolph County area was strip mining and farming country, but he's most familiar with Saline County since his family moved in 1947.

Gary Dowell brings the next chain saw carving up for bid at the Santa Fe Trail Days chuckwagon dinner Friday, Sept. 9, 2011. Auctioneer Brenton Fowler calls for bids on the carved Indian chief. Saline County Fair Association uses the annual chain saw carving auction to raise money to maintain the fairground. (File photo by Eric Crump/Democrat-News)

Ever since then, Dowell has been a permanent resident in the county.

"You got your roots here, just stay," Dowell said, with a laugh.

Dowell met his wife, Jean Halsey, at Marshall High School. While he said he's not quite sure about the exact moment, Jean recollects those days with a little more ease.

"I was a sophomore, he was a senior and we had a field trip out," Jean said. "He carried me across the creek. I was the only one that got carried across the creek."

They got married in 1963 and had three daughters, all of which live away from home. Two of them live in Kansas City, with one teaching in Raytown and the other working for Sprint, and the youngest one lives in Virginia as a U.S. government employee.

Dowell said he's always known farming and he was comfortable with the life. He sold the land he was farming and moved into town in 1996. However, he stays connected to the life by being involved with the county fair, cornhusking and educating the children about farming.

Dowell said he supposes he'll retire from being involved when he's "put in the ground or can't go no more."

"I'm a country boy," Dowell said. "You could take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy."

Contact Jesse Brown at jbrown@marshallnews.com