Lorna Kathryn Cowle Wass of Gloucester, died unexpectedly on Oct. 3, 2018.
Born in Eustis, Florida, to Angus Munn Cowle and Margaret Ilene Cowle on Sept. 17, 1930, Lorna’s childhood on Lake Nettie among the citrus groves was highlighted by swimming, canoeing, and travel stories of her great-aunts.
Educated in social work at Mary Baldwin College, Florida State University, and the University of Chicago, she enjoyed a lifelong thirst for knowledge with a voracious appetite for reading. Lorna met Marvin Wass, her tall, blonde Minnesotan, at Mullet Key Marine Science Museum in Tampa, Florida. They were married and welcomed their first two children while he continued his education in Florida.
After a brief teaching stop at Western Carolina University, Lorna and Marvin arrived in Gloucester in 1960 as he accepted a position at VIMS. Several years later, they built their home “Arbor Knob” at the end of Lewis Avenue. They turned it into a haven for native plants and wildlife.
As her children grew older, Lorna, inspired by the spirit of volunteerism from her mother, immersed herself in community activities. Her Girl Scout youth experience led her to become a troop leader, and later a Council Board Member. She cared for Fred Mason and facilitated his gift of 37 acres and his home on Burke’s Mill Pond to the Colonial Girl Scout Council. She taught Red Cross swimming lessons at the pond and at numerous other locations. Disaster Relief, Military Family Support, and Blood Donation Chairwoman were also tasks near to her heart.
In 1970, Lorna and Marvin were among the founders of the John Clayton Natural History Society, a grassroots group of citizens who appreciated the “flora and fauna” of the Middle Peninsula. Later, the Friends of The Dragon Run was born of this same ideal with Lorna as a founder.
For over 20 years, third graders at Botetourt Elementary came to know “Mrs. Wass.” Students and teachers walked down Main Street to her home for lessons in nature study. These field trips brought children to hands-on contact with a world beyond the pavement. During inclement weather, she would read to the classes transplanting her love of books into youthful minds.
As her husband’s career was cut short, Lorna researched how to maintain his health while he battled dementia. Later, she served on the State Alzheimer’s Commission to share her experience when resources were lacking. She revisited her own career goals with Espey Huston as a field archaeologist during this time.
After Marvin’s passing, Lorna was able to travel freely; hiking, boating, and researching with Peru, Chile, Turkey, Vietnam, Egypt and ancient Mexico being a few of her destinations. She enjoyed the anticipation of travel almost as much as her stories to share with friends upon returning.
Her later years were spent in archaeology at Windsor and Ware House Landing Farm, Friends of the Gloucester Library, Native Plant Society functions, and patrolling the gardens at home.
Predeceased by her parents, her husband, and a lifetime collection of her best friends, Lorna is survived by her sister, Marianna; her children, Gerry (Neal Ann), Teresa Ilene (Marvin), and Barry (Susan); her grandchildren, Steven, David, Will, Elise, Ingrid, Aaron, and Karsyn; her great-grandchildren, Stephen, Michael, Olivia, and Clayton, and her church family at Grace Covenant Presbyterian.
The family wishes to thank Marty Yavorsky, Kenneth Walker, and Maynard and Jane Nichols for their unmeasurable kindness. Also, Kim and Doug Hibbs and Gary and Karen Ward and their compassionate staffs for helping Lorna be independent in the “walking years.”
In lieu of flowers, please give to an organization you have read about here to continue their good works.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 2 p.m. at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, 6470 Main Street, Gloucester, Va.
Andrews Funeral Home & Crematory, Gloucester, is in charge of arrangements.