Lee (Nichols) McKowen, 89 of Leola, Pennsylvania died peacefully at home in her sleep on December 31st. She will be dearly missed by her loving family. Lee was the daughter of the late Herman & Grace (Ellenberger) Nichols of Indiana, Pennsylvania and grew up on her parents’ horse farm raising horses and training under her father’s tutelage to be a sulky driver. She raced for Hanover Shoe Farms among others, including the great actor Jimmy Stewart’s father. Lee’s success on the track led to national recognition as one of the top ten sulky drivers in the country, which was especially significant since she was competing in what was traditionally a man’s sport.
She met Robert (Bob) McKowen when he covered her racing career as a sports reporter for the former United Press, now UPI. The couple married shortly thereafter and lived in Charleston, West Virginia, where Lee put aside her riding crop and racing silks to start their family. They later settled in Leola, PA where they raised their five children.
Lee and Bob had a life-long passion for dogs and raised numerous champion German Short Haired Pointers. In later years, Lee and Bob traveled the world to attend the AKC World Agility Competitions. Of all her travels, Lee considered Ireland to be her favorite country to visit. Lee’s other passion was her grandchildren. She particularly enjoyed watching them compete in their various sports.
Lee was preceded in death by her beloved husband Bob, after sharing 65 years of marriage and also by her brother Harold and granddaughter Laura. She is survived by her five children and their spouses: Dr. Bob McKowen and Cassie McKowen, Mitzi Perry, Jackie and Mike Summers, John and Cindy McKowen, Pat and Jenell McKowen; and by her nine grandchildren; Alex, Amanda, Stephen, Matt, Madison, Maddie, Chase, Cole and Ryan, along with a great grandson, Charlie. She is also survived by her sister, Pat Clark of Ocala, Florida.
A viewing will be held from 10-11:00 A.M. on Saturday, January 7th at Grace Church Shrewsbury, 473 Plank Road, New Freedom, PA followed by a funeral service at 11:00 A.M.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Make a Wish Foundation and the Leola Library.