Dick Stowers, Stowers ElementaryBy Michelle Caceres
Hillsborough County School Board named the Lithia elementary school located adjacent to FishHawk Ranch after Richard “Dick” Stowers, 79, a local civic leader and businessman that revolutionized the funeral business in the Brandon area. Born in Hillsborough County, Stowers grew up in the Palm River area when Brandon was just a sleepy bedroom community. Ironically, Stowers fondly recalls his younger days of courting young ladies on the property where the elementary school now resides. He and his friends would swim in the lake and park their cars on its banks. “That area was a real lover’s lane,” he says. As an 8-year-old boy, Stowers attended the funeral of a young neighborhood girl, an experience that irrevocably altered the direction of his life. “I knew from that moment on that I wanted to be a funeral director,” he reflects. His big break came in 1960, when a friend loaned him the money to purchase the James Brandon Homestead located on S.R. 60. After remodeling the historic home, he opened Stowers Funeral Home in 1961. “Going into business for myself has given me a lot of opportunities to help other people and that’s a lot of fun,” said Stowers. Throughout his life, he has donated his time and money to many organizations, including the Brandon Kiwanis Club, Brandon Elks Club and Boys and Girls Club of Brandon. He was an active member of the Brandon Chamber of Commerce. Stowers and wife Raymetta have five daughters and one son. Raymetta said the naming is the perfect birthday gift (he’ll turn 80 on the 4th of July) for a man who never asks for anything. Friends signed petitions and wrote compelling letters to the school board in favor of using Stowers’ name. “It was wonderful to see so many people come out to support Dick and all he’s done for Brandon,” she says. Other schools receiving names in November include the middle school sharing the same campus, named in honor of the late Glenn Barrington, a long-time educator and school board member. Strawberry Crest High, located near Plant City and its adjacent elementary school, David E. Bailey Jr. Elementary, honoring a former educator and Plant City historian, were also named. Stowers says he hopes the children at his school will learn from his example to go after their dreams. “I hope each child at the school will have a vision to do something great,” he said. For more information about the schools named in November visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us.

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Marie is the Managing Editor at the Osprey Observer. She covers news, transportation, education and likes to make a positive impact on the community and be 'in the know'!