Elizabeth Bowles

Elizabeth Thomas Bowles spent much of her professional life working for the betterment of Roanoke as a locally elected official and in numerous civic activities. Her desire to make Roanoke a better place began when she observed that a vital commercial section of the city, the Williamson Road corridor, was not prospering. She and her husband, Ralph, co-owned several bakeries (Bowles Bakeries), including two on Williamson Road, for 38 years. In working with local government to revitalize the area around her family’s businesses, Elizabeth Bowles decided to run for City Council to influence the many civic improvements she felt were needed. She served for 20 years, including time as Vice Mayor, and was the second woman to hold a council position.

As a businessperson, Elizabeth Bowles recognized that wise and carefully thought-out capital investments could reap large rewards for a municipality, but she realized that the results of some decisions made by local government may take years to achieve. The vibrancy apparent in downtown Roanoke today is due in large part to choices the City Council made during her tenure.

Elizabeth has a long list of contributions of her time and dedication to her family, church, and community. She was a long-time member of Huntington Court Church where she was on the official board and honored in 1996. She was on the board of Total Action Against Poverty for more than 22 years and  was on the advisory board for the Salem VA. Hospital, Secretary and Treasurer for Roanoke Valley Chapter American Ex-Prisoners of War, State Commander for the Commonwealth of VA, American Prisoners of War, Mayor’s committee for the disabled, Chairman of the Virginia Municipal League and National League of cities, Committee Charter Member of: Roanoke Crossroads Lions Club, Williamson Road Action Forum, American Business Women’s Association, Williamson Road Women’s club, and the Oakland Garden Club, where she served as president for three years, where she encouraged the construction of landscaping and beautification projects throughout Roanoke.

Other special awards include: 1962 – Mother of the year award, 1976-78 – First woman vice mayor for the City of Roanoke, 1981- Outstanding woman of the year for Southwest Virginia. 1996- First Woman of the year, Miss Virginia Pageant, and 2000- inducted into the Southwest Virginia Business Hall of Fame. She passed away on December 10th, 2013, in Roanoke.

Elizabeth Bowles was inducted into the Southwest Virginia Business Hall of Fame in 2000.

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