Cherie Lorene Orr McCowen Peterson was born December 9, 1927, on her grandparents’ farm near Tulia, Texas. The first of four children of Alma and Warren Orr, she graduated from Tulia High School and enrolled as a science student at West Texas State College in Canyon, where she met her future husband, Daniel Duncan McCowen. In early 1946, Cherie and Dan left Canyon to travel to Los Angeles, California, stopping in Clovis, NM, to get married.
Dan found a job as a mechanic at an auto repair shop, while Cherie filled the role of live-in nanny and cook for a prosperous family near Glendale. On November 11, 1946, she had her first child, Michael Warren, in the hallway outside the maternity ward of Glendale Research Hospital. She and many wives of servicemen who had returned from the just-ending war were having to give birth anywhere they could in overcrowded medical facilities.
The following year, the young family left California and returned to Texas. Cherie had her second child, Patricia Ruth, in Brownfield. Expecting a boy and having only boy’s names in mind, they were “fooled” by the arrival of their daughter on April 1, 1948. Instead of naming the child after her other grandfather, Henry McCowen, they named her after Henry’s wife, Ruth.
After moving to Las Cruces, NM, Cherie discovered the challenge and enjoyment of bookkeeping. Over the next thirty years, she filled a variety of positions in several other New Mexico communities: Clovis, Elida and Hobbs. Also, her volunteer activities were abundant: PTA, den mother for both Boy and Girl Scouts clubs and church choir.
In 1966, they settled in Ruidoso, NM, where they bought the Midway Garage and operated it for the next 14 years. This involved not only the repair of cars and trucks, but also a wrecker service that kept them very busy during horse-racing summers and snow-skiing winters in this popular tourist resort. While there, Cherie was active as treasurer for both the BPO Does and Beta Sigma Phi. She even obtained her pilot’s license in case Dan had a problem while flying their small airplane.
In 1980, a difficult decision had to be made: Dan’s mother, Ruth Tillinghast McCowen, who still lived on her homestead ranch in Elida, fell ill and needed constant care. Dan & Cherie sold their Ruidoso business and moved to the McCowen ranch, where they eventually constructed a large shop near Ruth’s 1917 house. For the next 15 years, many county residents brought their cars, trucks, farm and ranch machinery, school buses and trailers to this shop for repair.
Three years after their move to the ranch, construction of an underground home started a mile east of Ruth’s house. Dan & Cherie took great pride in carrying out most of the home’s construction, including the plumbing, electrical, drywall, windows, stucco, painting and laying tile. Local residents even entertained their guests by giving “tours” through the McCowen home. For almost three decades, it was the gathering place for many family reunions and local social events.
After 52 years of marriage, Dan passed away, and Cherie continued to live on the McCowen ranch while active in her art work and membership at the United Methodist Church, the Elida Senior Center and Homemakers Club. In 2001, she married G.E. Peterson, a local rancher and widower who had lived in the Elida area since the 1940’s. The two enjoyed many road trips across the country, as well as a cruise to Alaska. G.E. passed away in 2012, at the age of 100 years, twenty days. Their 11-year marriage joined two loving families who remain close today.
In 2014, Cherie sold her home and moved to Parker, Colorado, to live with her daughter, Pat, and son-in-law, Dan Rosales. Starting in 2019, her care-giving was shared by her son, Mike, and his wife, Dollie, of Capitan, NM. She cheerfully tolerated being shuffled every three months from one state to the other, balancing cold and warm months between her two homes.
Cherie is survived by her brother, Bud Orr of Amarillo, TX, son Michael (Dollie) McCowen, daughter Patricia (Daniel) Rosales, stepdaughters Sue Mathis, Janet (Gary) Schlothauer, Katie Ann Hillelson, and Ginger Peterson; her grandchildren Donna (Richard) Morse of Littleton, CO, Ted (Geana) Rosales of Rio Rancho, NM, George (Chris) Rosales of Littleton, Katherine (Brian) Scherrer of Leesburg, VA., Jeremy Knight, Alethea Knight and Melissa White. She was also blessed with over 20 great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren (5 generations).
Funeral service will be Wednesday, May 19, ay 10:30 AM at the United Methodist Church in Elida with burial to follow at the Elida Cemetery.