Stephen Franklin Fowler

November 8, 1937 ~ December 21, 2018 (age 81)

Stephen Franklin Fowler


SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Stephen Franklin Fowler, 81, of 155 East Broad Street Apt. 206, Spartanburg, SC  29306, passed away peacefully on December 21, 2018.

A celebration of his life will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 6, 2019, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spartanburg (210 Henry Place).

Steve Fowler was born on Nov. 8, 1937, in Clarksville, Texas. After graduating from high school in 1955, he joined the U.S. Army, serving three years. He then returned to Texas with the desire to become the first member of his family to graduate from college.

Steve rode a school bus every day to Paris Junior College. It was on that bus that a romance blossomed, as he began saving a seat each morning for another student – a pretty redhead named Abby Carter. They were married in 1962, and in the same decade had both a son Scott and a daughter Marietta (Mary).

Steve eventually would earn not only a bachelor’s degree but also a PhD in statistics from the University of Texas at Austin. In 1973, he and Abby would move their family to Spartanburg for Steve to take a job as an Operations Research analyst with Milliken. Steve worked at Milliken for the last 24 years of his career. He was a generous and brilliant colleague, and those were happy years for him, full of productive work and strong friendships.

Steve could make furniture, explain why the sky was blue and quote long passages from Macbeth. But his most beloved characteristic was his laugh – a knee-slapping, hand-clapping, wonderfully infectious, absolutely genuine expression of delight. He used that hearty laugh frequently, because he so often found joy in life.

Steve loved a good story, and when you told him one he listened like you were the most important person in the world. He was a compassionate man who was curious about everything.

Steve loved his family deeply – his wife, his two kids and the six grandchildren he frequently entranced with his own made-up stories of fierce bears and daring rescues.

His capacity for love also extended to fossils, pocket knives, whistling, full moons, old Broadway show tunes, his rescued mutt dog Andy, his own homemade chili and a grocery sack full of books from the Spartanburg County Public Library.

In his retirement years, Steve served for seven years as the volunteer janitor at the Unitarian church, participated with his friends in the monthly humanist discussions and seldom missed a Sunday service.

Survivors include his wife of 56 years, Abby Carter Fowler; son Scott Fowler and his wife Elise of Denver, N.C.; daughter Mary Fowler Lawson and her husband Rick of Boiling Springs; and six grandchildren -- Tristan and Paige Lawson; and Chapel, Salem, London and Georgia Fowler.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to either

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Spartanburg (P.O. Box 1942, Spartanburg, SC, 29304); Friends of the Spartanburg County Public Libraries (151 South Church Street, Spartanburg, SC, 29306); or the Spartanburg Regional Hospice Home (686 Jeff Davis Dr., Spartanburg, SC, 29303).

Online condolences for the family may be left at

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Bobo Funeral Chapel and Cremation Service

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