Cover photo for Laura Burnett Gowen's Obituary
Laura Burnett Gowen Profile Photo
1933 Laura 2023

Laura Burnett Gowen

April 16, 1933 — August 18, 2023

Our wonderful mother, Laura Gowen, affectionately known as “Bunny” (because she was born on Easter Sunday) and “Hoppy” to her grandchildren and great grandchildren, passed away peacefully on August 18th, surrounded by loved ones as she journeyed to her true home. She lived 90 years strong and we feel incredibly blessed and honored to have shared our lives with her.


Bunny was born at Swedish hospital on April 16, 1933, to Frances Green Burnett and Colonel Charles Pye Burnett Jr. and was the granddaughter of Joshua and Laura Turner Green. As a Seattle native, she watched the city change and grow, always commenting that Smith Tower was the tallest building when she was born.


As a young woman, Bunny was an accomplished equestrian, an avid tennis player, and a soprano with the prestigious Handel and Haydn Choir of Boston, Massachusetts. She was a graduate of St. Timothy’s Boarding School and Briarcliff Junior College, and in 1987, because of her work with the National Scoliosis Foundation, she received an honorary doctorate from Macalester College.


She lived a life of service and hospitality and was just as comfortable waltzing in a ballgown as she was perched on top of a Land Rover in the African bush, rigging up a makeshift shower from a coffee can and a radiator hose.


Although Belmont, Massachusetts was her home base until 1993, in the 1960’s and 70’s with four children in tow, she accompanied her husband to live in Nigeria, Brazil and Ethiopia. While other ex-pat families remained in their “bubble,” she ensured her family was immersed in and embraced local culture, customs, and people. No Ethiopian food was too spicy for her palate!


While living in Ethiopia, she befriended Atlabachew Tedla, a local teenager with severe curvature of the spine. Later, he joined the Gowen family in the United States for life-changing surgeries to correct his 143-degree spinal curvature. This experience propelled Bunny to establish the National Scoliosis Foundation, a labor of love, where she worked tirelessly without a paycheck for 17 years.


She was Parent Association President at Belmont Day School, Belmont, MA, and a Board member at Beaver Country Day School, Chestnut Hill, MA, the Joshua Green Corporation, Seattle, WA, The Country Club of Seattle and the National Society of the Colonial Dames of Washington State. She was also actively involved with the Arboretum Guild # 26, The Sunset Club and the Junior League of Boston.


Even though she loved traveling and cherished her visits to Maui, her favorite destination was always the home she built on Bainbridge Island, especially when it was filled with family. Her home was a constant source of love, humor and an endless supply of Dove ice cream bars in the freezer. Her favorite activity was laughing with family and looking at Puget Sound to watch the sailboats race, the cruise ships depart for Alaska and the ferries cross near Blakely Rock.


Bunny is predeceased by her parents and her brothers, Charles Pye Burnett III “Bunky” and William Green Burnett “Bill”. She is survived by her four children Herbert “Burry” Gowen (Wendy), William “Lile” Gowen, Laura Brisbane (Cal Buys) and Louisa Malatos (Scott), eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.


A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, September 30th from 3:30-6 p.m. (program 4:00 p.m.) at the Sunset Club, Seattle. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the following: the National Scoliosis Foundation, Stoughton, MA, Bainbridge Island Community Foundation, Bainbridge Island Volunteer Firefighters Assn. 8895 Madison Ave. NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110



Arrangements entrusted to Cook Family Funeral Home of Bainbridge Island, WA.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Laura Burnett Gowen, please visit our flower store.

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Celebration of Life

Saturday, September 30, 2023

3:30 - 6:00 pm (Pacific time)

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