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Edmond sisters, 91 and 86, share love of life, learning

Oklahoma-born sisters Gratia Bowen, 91, and Valeta Dome, 86, continue their love for doing things together with an acrylic class offered at the Fine Arts Institute of Edmond.
BY SARAH HUSSAIN Modified: March 8, 2013 at 6:57 pm •  Published: March 9, 2013

— Two Oklahoma-born sisters continue their love for doing things together with an acrylic class offered at the Fine Arts Institute.

Gratia Bowen, 91, and Valeta Dome, 86, are studying painting with Bert Seabourn.

“When she was going to UCO a hundred years ago she really wanted to take art, and our mom and dad said, ‘Well you know, artists go starve in the garret somewhere, so you better take something else,'” Dome said of Bowen. “So she took commercial subjects, but she always loved art.”

Bowen began first grade in 1926 at the Old North Tower, which is now on the University of Central Oklahoma campus.

They said their grandfather was in the Land Run of 1889, and their mother, Clemie Dome, started the second kindergarten class in the state before it was offered in public schools.

After the Depression, when members of their extended family moved to Oklahoma City, they stayed in Edmond because their parents wanted them to go to UCO.

Bowen graduated from the university in 1945 to teach kindergarten like their mother. Dome attended UCO for two years before giving in to her desire to travel the world.

“I was going to travel, and I met my husband out in Colorado and got sidetracked, and so I got married and have two sons,” Bowen said.

Dome followed her sister to Colorado but then heard of a job available in Washington.

“I went to Washington, D.C., with the Geological Survey and stayed with them for 10 years,” Dome said. “I wanted to go to Europe, but they said no because I wasn't a geologist and they didn't need me. That's when I joined the State Department.”

With the State Department, she went to Tokyo for a year, which gave her a taste for the Foreign Service.

“So I came back and joined Foreign Service,” she said. “I said, ‘If this is an employment, this is my cup of tea.'”

Seeing the world

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