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James L. “Jim” and Betty Sowder of Mechanicsville will celebrate 50 years of marriage July 27. For 43 of those years they have been Hanover County residents. The Sowders are also 34-year members of Mechanicsville Baptist Church.
They both grew up in the Alleghany Springs area of Montgomery County, Va. They first attended the same two-room school, later the same high school, and the same church.
Going their separate ways when Jim became a student and later graduated from Virginia Tech, they met up again by chance in Christiansburg the morning Jim was headed to the draft board to be inducted into the U.S. Army for what was his obligatory service at that time. Betty was headed to her summer job at Leggett’s Department Store prior to attending Radford College the next fall. With college behind them, they both ended up with jobs in the Tidewater area, where they started dating for the very first time.
The rest as they say “is history.” One could look at these coincidences as “fate,” but Jim and Betty have always considered them acts of divine providence.
The Sowders have two children: Johanna Sowder Townsend (Greg) and Nathan Sowder (Jeana), whose families both live in King William County. Jim and Betty have three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.