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Dad dies hours after woman’s fatal wreck

By Kristen Bishop · 340-2443

A Morgan County family is mourning two family members who died less than 13 hours apart.

Elgin Bowen, 86, of Som-erville died from apparent heart failure Saturday at about 12:12 a.m., following the death of his daughter Barbara Keel, 58, of Hartselle on Friday morning.

Keel was driving to her Hartselle home after visiting her father in Guntersville when her minivan collided with a tractor-trailer on Alabama 67 near Brewer High School at about 11:30 a.m.

Bowen’s daughter-in-law, Belinda Bowen, said he suffered a major stroke on Dec. 5 and hadn’t regained full consciousness. After the stroke, he was barely able to communicate with visitors, but he could nod his head in acknowledgment and would kiss his wife, Louise, when she leaned over him.

Keel visited her father at Marshall Medical Center in Guntersville almost every day and maintained a close relationship with him, said Belinda Bowen.

Family members did not tell Elgin Bowen about the death of his daughter before he died.

“We thought it was very strange that he passed away right after she did, because he had really been struggling to live. He had a very strong will to live,” said Belinda Bowen.

“When she passed away, it seemed like it was easier for him to just let go, almost like she led him across.”

Keel and Elgin Bowen shared a love for music and the Christian faith. Bowen served as a deacon and song leader at Blue Springs Baptist Church in Somerville, and Keel was an active member of East Highland Baptist Church in Hartselle.

According to Keel’s friend Donna Legg-Battles, Keel sang in church the Sunday before her death. Legg-Battles said the song choice will leave a lasting impression on the congregation. She sang “It Is Well with My Soul.”

“It makes you think. That’s the way I want to be remembered — by my faith,” said Legg-Battles.

Visitation for Bowen was Sunday at 12:30 p.m., followed by the funeral at Peck Funeral Home Chapel. Friends and family had only hours to prepare for Keel’s visitation at 6 p.m.

Keel’s funeral is today at 1 p.m. at Hartselle Heritage Funeral Home.

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