By BRIAN SMITH
Looking forward to her 105th birthday next month, Opal Bowden is as spry and active as a woman 40 years younger.
She has put her heart and soul into the Disciple Women’s Fellowship at Central Christian Church since retiring from Opal’s Beauty Shop in 1973. For her 40 years of work with the organization, she was sworn in as President Emeritus of the group during a ceremony Tuesday morning.
Weatherford Mayor Dennis Hooks was on hand with a proclamation from the city for Bowden’s years of good works. She was also made Queen for a Day with a tiara presented to her by Children’s Minister Molly Goodrich. Bookmarks with some of Bowden’s favorite scripture passages were mementos of the event for all who attended.
Members of Bowden’s family attended the ceremony, which involved plenty of Bowden’s good humor. Much of it started when she rose from a chair to speak.
“I’m gonna get up. This is going to be spectacular,” Bowden said. “I’m going to say what the DWF means to me. When I became active in this group, we had $2 in the bank. We decided we wanted to raise some money but all any of us could do is cook.”
Bowden said the group started serving turkey dinners around Thanksgiving for $3 a plate and served about 150 meals. It was quickly determined that wasn’t enough money to do what the organization wanted to do. With a little hard work and determination, those numbers grew to 1,000 dinners at $12 a plate, Bowden said.
The annual turkey dinner, held the weekend before Thanksgiving, has now become an event known throughout the city, according to DWF member Mable Davee, who has known Bowden for 73 years. Davee said people came to Opal’s Beauty Shop soon after she came to town after graduating school in Garner.
“You went to her shop to perk up your spirit as well as get your hair done,” Davee said. “She can still perk up your spirit.”
DWF member Rachel Johnson, who has been a club member since 1973, called Bowden “an iconic presence in the church,” and said she “was wonderful to everyone she meets.”
In honor of the occasion, Bowden was moved to the head of a table to have lunch with her family. “I’ve always wanted to sit there,” Bowden joked.
Bowden said she has been with the church since 1930 and praised her fellow DWF members for their tireless work.
“I can’t say enough about how the women of the organization have stuck together and I am proud to be a part of it,” Bowden said. “And I’m not going anywhere.”