MARION

Buford E. "Gene" Fowler Sr., 91, of Marion, passed away early Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Va.

Gene was above all things loyal to family and to friends. He was most giving of the many blessings that had come his way in life. A man that many remember as one of a kind, was truly that. A lifelong love of his accidental career path in the newspaper industry, allowed him to make truly deep impacts on the communities and people he was able to serve. During the depression, Gene began selling papers to help make ends meet for his family, and while he made boisterous claims of being the best short order cook, or best curb hop at the Hub City Diner, along with a stint in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he spent his entire life in the newspaper business. He worked his way from entry level positions ascending the ranks of publisher of six newspapers during his life. Of his many mentors, Phil Buchheit, publisher of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, took interest in Gene, a young stereotyper at the time, whom all the employees called "Slick". With Buchheit's guidance, his career took flight. As repayment for that fateful break in his life, Gene took great satisfaction from all the many employees that he was able to nurture along the way that still continue to influence and bring needed change in the communities they serve.

Gene was a man who believed in "working hard and smart to get ahead, because even ditch diggers worked hard." He played hard as well. A lifelong baseball, golf, and football fan, he participated in many sports from softball, water skiing, snow skiing, coaching children, and his most beloved pastime of all, golf. Gene loved nothing more than to play with his children and grandchildren. Though introducing new friends to the game was always something he took great enjoyment from. He also never tired of watching his children and grandchildren competing in the sports and activities they loved. Whether cheering basketball, baseball, or football, he could always be counted on as their biggest fan.

Gene is survived by wife of 54 years, Brenda West Fowler; daughters, Jody Mathews and spouse, Bob, Sandra Hildenbrand and spouse, Jack; sons, Buford E. "Gene" Fowler Jr. and spouse, Erin, Philip Fredrick Fowler, William Lanford Fowler and spouse, Tracie Stevens. Gene also had 13 grandchildren who he adored along with six great-grandchildren; and sisters, Nellie, and Nancy Fowler.

He was preceded in death by father, Clyde L. Fowler; mother, Nancy Sue Ledbetter; daughter, Carol Lynne Fowler; brothers, Alfred Fowler, Kenneth Fowler, and James Fowler; sisters, Janet Fowler, and Fae Fowler.

A private funeral service was held Thursday, Feb. 1. Westmoreland Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. An online register is available at www.westmorelandfuneralhome.com.

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