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Mary Hunter Bowman, the University of La Verne's oldest alumna, set the bar a little higher this week when she celebrated her 100th birthday with friends.Mark Vidal image.

Mary Hunter Bowman, the University of La Verne's oldest alumna, set the bar a little higher this week when she celebrated her 100th birthday with friends.
Mark Vidal image.

Lifetime Achievement

University of La Verne’s oldest living alumna Mary Hunter Bowman turns 100, sparking a milestone celebration.

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  • May 21, 2012

With a steady stream of well-wishers, Mary Hunter Bowman, the University of La Verne’s oldest alumna, celebrated birthday No. 100 with a few friends Monday, not far from where she passed a few other major milestones in her life.

The big celebration came a few days earlier, when close to 125 guests attended a party in Bowman’s honor, flooding her home at Brethren Hillcrest Homes with flowers and balloons.

Mary Hunter Bowman, front, sits in the seat bearing the names "Mary and Sidney Hunter '33" in the Ann & Steve Morgan Auditorium during the dedication in April. Also enjoying the event are, back row, left to right, Steve Stapleton, Andy Hanson and Bill Hanson, and, seated, left to right, Cathy Stapleton and Amanda Hanson.

Bowman graduated from La Verne College in 1933. It was there that she met her first husband, fellow student Sidney Hunter. The two were married by Dr. William Hoover, professor, dean & president of La Verne College.

Bowman married her second husband, Loren Bowman, in La Verne five years ago, and the two enjoyed happy times together until Bowman passed away last summer.

Mary Hunter Bowman discovered La Verne in February of 1927, when she joined her parents on what was then a fairly long trip from Inglewood to attend the dedication of Founders Auditorium.

“I don’t know why we went,” Bowman said. “But I decided right then and there that I wanted to go to this college.”

In April, Bowman came full circle when she attended the dedication of the renovated auditorium she first set foot in more than 85 years ago, now called the Ann & Steve Morgan Auditorium. A plaque bearing her family name adorns a balcony seat. A loyal supporter of her alma mater, now called the University of La Verne, Bowman beamed with pride as she sat in “her” seat.

“We couldn’t give much, but we gave what we could,” she said. “It’s exciting because of all (the Morgans) have done for the university.”

Amanda Hanson and Julia Wheeler contributed to this report.

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