Walter (Wally) Thomas Sowles, a resident of Charlevoix, entered eternal life on Friday, January 17, 2020. The son of the late Virgil and Bessie Sowles was born on February 22, 1950, in Midland, Michigan, where he was raised and educated.
After high school, Wally enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served his country proudly during the Vietnam War aboard the USS James Madison nuclear ballistic missile submarine. Following his service, Wally immediately began his postsecondary education at Delta Community College in Midland, later followed by Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Education. He and a friend then moved to Houston, Texas, where they had dreamed of making big money working on offshore oil rigs. Wally quickly discovered after one week on the rig that this type of work would not be his life’s passion. He then went to work for Shell Oil Westhollow Technology Center in Houston. It was during this time, he met the love of his life, Lori Bennett, and they were married in June of 1994.
After eleven years with Shell Oil, Wally finally decided to put his college degree to work. He was next employed by, and proudly taught for, both the Alief and Katy Independent School Districts in Texas. He taught K-5 elementary physical education classes until he retired. For those that knew Wally well, it was obvious he was a natural with children. In addition, he always pursued his personal physical fitness initiatives including martial arts, cycling, swimming, running, and weight lifting.
He always had an intense love for automobiles, especially the classic cars of which he owned several over the years. Wally developed many close friends who shared this same interest, and he and Lori traveled to many car shows throughout Texas and Michigan.
In addition, Wally loved music, especially the 70’s and 80’s. He became a huge fan of the Petoskey Steel Drum Band (PSDB) and rarely missed a performance. He once traveled to New Orleans and rode on the PSDB’s double-decker trailer during Mardi Gras, while dancing and throwing beads to the parade audience. He also loved the great outdoors and enjoyed activities with family on the lakes of northern Michigan.
Wally and Lori recently returned to Charlevoix to live permanently. Wally resided in American House Senior Living Community for the last six months while enduring the changes caused by Lewy Body Dementia. He passed away peacefully while surrounded by many close family members at the McLaren Hiland Cottage Hospice House in Petoskey.
Wally is survived by his wife, Lori Bennett, of Charlevoix; his sister, Judy and John Sirrine of Midland; and his daughter, Laurie Alberding of Kenton, Ohio. In addition, he is also survived by several close in-laws, including Velma Bennett of Charlevoix; Jeff and Deb Bennett of Hastings; Fred and Leslie Bennett of Larkspur, Colorado; Barry and Robin Bennett of Petoskey; Brian and Mary Wynne of Midland; Jayne and Ron Winchester of Charlevoix, and many more loving family members including nieces, nephews, cousins and grandchildren, including greats! He was preceded in death by his mother, father, and his sister, Marjorie Loose. Wally will be missed by so many.
Memorial contributions in his memory can be mailed to any one of the following charities: Petoskey Steel Drum Band, c/o Petoskey Band Boosters, 801 Northman Dr., Petoskey, MI 49770. McLaren Northern Michigan Foundation – Hiland Cottage House, 360 Connable Avenue, Petoskey, MI 49770. The Lewy Body Dementia Association, 912 Killian Hill Road S.W., Lilburn, GA 30047, Please reference Wally’s name on your donation.
Funeral services for Wally will be conducted on Saturday, January 25, at the Mortensen Funeral Home in Charlevoix. The family will receive visitors between 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. A celebration of Wally’s life will immediately follow the visitation period. Please join us for a special time in reminiscing fond memories of Wally.
We wish to thank the entire staff at both the American House Senior Living Community in Charlevoix, and the Hiland Cottage Hospice House in Petoskey for the tender care and services they provided to our dear Wally.
Arrangements are in the care of the Winchester Chapel of Mortensen Funeral Homes. Sign his online guestbook www.mortensenfuneralhomes.com
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