It's 2 1/2 uphill blocks from 100-year-old Cora Rowley's neat little condominium to the entrance of the St. George Temple, but with suitcase in hand she quick-steps up and back four times a week.
Remarkable? Well, yes and no. No, because she has been doing it so long she thinks nothing of it. To people around here, however, it's nothing short of amazing, considering she turned 100 on Christmas Day. Family and friends gathered in St. George Dec. 15 for an open house celebrating her century of living.As she walks to and from the temple, the 4-foot-10-inch, 80-pound lady will gladly take your arm if she thinks she can help you. Usually, she makes the walk alone.
In addition to her regular temple service, Sister Rowley is a faithful visiting teacher with no plans to ease up. She has been visiting teaching for 80 years, except during the time she served two missions with her late husband, George P. Rowley, in South Carolina and Kansas. After their missions, the Rowleys were called as ordinance workers at the St. George Temple for two years, but they served for eight.
Following their marriage in the St. George Temple in 1910, the Rowleys farmed in Parowan, Utah, for more than 50 years. They raised alfalfa, grain, dairy cows and five children. They have 22 grandchildren, 101 great-grandchildren and 43 great-great-grandchildren.
"My husband has been gone 25 years now, but it seems like 2,500," reflected Sister Rowley. "I miss him every bit as much now as at first. No man could be better to his wife than George was to me, and he taught our children the same."
She said her husband had suffered polio as a child, was "slightly bent" and was 5-feet, 7-inches tall. "That was tall enough, he seemed tall to me," she said.
After the death of her husband, Sister Rowley continued faithful service in the Church and at the temple, and does so to this day.
"I enjoy going to the temple, it's a great experience," she said. "I've been going four days a week for about 20 years. Through attending the temple, I have experienced the joy of service and the blessings of the Lord. If people want peace of mind, the temple is a good place to go."
Sister Rowley said the women she visit teaches are "very cordial and kind," and that she and her companion deliver a message during each visit.
"I also enjoyed teaching Sunday School and Primary years ago," she reflected. "Some of my former students have come to me lately and greeted me kindly."
Sister Rowley lives alone, but her granddaughter, Helen Bauer, takes her shopping and to get her hair done each week. She does her own cooking, eating mostly fruits and vegetables, very little meat and practically no milk.
"I eat everything I want, but I don't have much of an appetite," she said. "I've never liked milk, and maybe that's why I didn't grow taller."
The petite Sister Rowley has most of her clothing made by her youngest daughter, Shirley Evans.
"Shirley teases me because I'm so small, and says that she is too big to make clothes for dolls, so she makes them for me," laughed Sister Rowley, who even shops for dresses in department store children's departments. "A few of the styles are nice, but I can't find much to fit me."
Born in Sanford, Colo., where her parents were called to help colonize the San Luis Valley, Sister Rowley was the fourth of seven children.
"My father was a carpenter and a musician who played the violin," recalled Sister Rowley.
The family moved from Colorado to Parowan in southern Utah in 1899, where Sister Rowley graduated from the eighth grade, ending her formal education.
But she has continued to learn and serve, and shows no signs of letting up.