Less than one day after celebrating her 97th birthday, Thelma Elizabeth Cowden of Gardner, Kan. went home to be with the Lord. 

Thelma was born on May 5, 1916 in Sand Springs, Okla. At the age of two, she lost both of her parents and her only sister to the influenza epidemic of 1918 and lost her only brother when he was 11 years old in an oil rig accident. She was adopted by her aunt, Bessie Holland, and brought to Overland Park, Kan. where she lived throughout her teenage years. She later moved to Olathe, Kan. where she lived for many years. From there, she moved to Gardner, where she lived the last 43 years of her life.
Thelma was married on Aug. 8, 1934 to Ralph C. Miller with whom she had twelve healthy children. Ralph preceded her in death in July 1991.
She was later married to John W. Cowden until he passed away in Dec. 1999.
Along with being blessed with twelve children, she was also blessed with 47 grandchildren, 53 great-grandchildren and several great-great-grandchildren.
Thelma’s love and protective spirit for children was never a question. Anyone visiting her home could see how obvious it was that her life was oriented toward children. Boxes and boxes of toys were always out in the open and available to any and all children who visited her. Thelma’s love for children was only surpassed by her love and devotion to her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. For the last eight years of her life, she attended the CollegeChurch of the Nazarene in Olathe.
Thelma had an energetic zeal for life. She went bowling on her 90th birthday, danced with a giant “frog” at the Rain Forrest Café on her 93rd birthday, and enjoyed boating, riding on hayrides, trips to the zoo, and Worlds of Fun. On one occasion, at the age of 94, she very determinedly jumped into the lake from off the deck of a pontoon, just to show she could still swim. She came up out of the water simply stating, “This is colder than I thought.”
Thelma loved to celebrate her favorite holiday, Christmas, and would decorate her home in elaborate displays of Christmas scenes, some of which she left up year round.
Looking back, we can see how her love for family and Christ stand as a testimony to her amazing life. Thelma Elizabeth Lord-Holland-Miller-Cowden was truly a blessing to anyone privileged to know her and she will be dearly missed.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., May 10, 2013 at Bruce Funeral Home, Gardner, KS (913) 856-7111.  Burial will follow at OlatheMemorialCemetery, Olathe, Kan.  Visitation will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., May 9, 2013 also at the funeral home.  Memorial contributions may be made to the Gardner VFW or MidAmerica Nazarene University World Missions.  Condolences may be left at www.brucefuneralhome.com.