Douglasville city officials have requested of state legislators that they honor one of their own with a memorial bridge over I-20 on Chapel Hill Road.
City officials wish to pay tribute to the late General Alpha A. (“Sonny”) Fowler, Jr. of Douglasville. He was born in 1920 in the Chapel Hill area of Douglas County and passed in 2003.
Elected to the Georgia House in 1950, he served seven terms. His father, Alpha A. Fowler, Sr., served thirteen terms in both the Georgia House and Senate. Alpha Jr. also served two years as Georgia’s adjutant general and six years on the Georgia Public Service Commission.
A 1942 University of Georgia graduate, Fowler was elected Student Leader (now known as president of the Student Government Association). Two of his sons also served in Student Government at UGA: Joe as president and Ned as treasurer.
In 1941, General Fowler made national news with an October 27, 1941 article in Time Magazine titled “Education: Talmadge, Phooey!” Fowler led a student demonstration of 108 cars from Athens to the State Capitol. Their beef was that Governor Eugene Talmadge had stacked the Board of Regents with his supporters; and they carried a petition, calling for its “unpacking.” With Talmadge’s ouster of UGA Dean Walter D. Cocking for allegedly advocating the co-education “of Negroes and whites,” Georgia had been dropped in July 1941 from the Southern University Conference of 41 leading colleges. Led by Fowler, the students were concerned about the possible loss of accreditation of the state’s colleges. ( www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,849579-1,00.html )
Fowler also was a film actor, portraying the lead role of Fred Dale in the 1939 film “The Green Hand.” The movie was based upon a 1932 novel written by UGA agriculture professor Paul W. Chapman about how joining the Future Farmers of America (FFA) “improved the life of a young delinquent, Fred Dale.” ( www.libs.uga.edu/media/collections/ugarelated/greenhand.html ) The 29-minute film was produced by Sears-Roebuck & Co. Although never considered “a young delinquent,” Fowler was a chicken farmer at one time.
During World War II in Italy, Fowler was a B-17 pilot and squadron commander in the Flying Fortress 483rd Bombardment Group. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and other awards for battle action. He later was promoted to Brigadier General with the Georgia Air National Guard.
Now 90, his bride, Mrs. Mary “Suzie” Hodgson Fowler, also was a UGA graduate who signed up to serve with the Red Cross during World War II. On the Isle of Capri, where they were both stationed and where they both later married, she met again her future husband whom she had known at UGA.
Of his wife, General Fowler wrote this message in her 1995 book of poetry and prose titled Unto Thee, O Lord:
“We had a storybook wedding on the Isle of Capri at the close of World War II where Suzie was a Red Cross Staff Assistant from Atlanta and I was a B-17 Pilot from Douglasville stationed in Italy.
“Upon returning home, we settled in Douglasville, were blessed with four wonderful sons and enjoyed all the rigors of raising and educating a family.
“In all of this, Suzie has furnished a bedrock spiritual foundation that has inspired and challenged her family and all who know her. This collection of poems reflects a life dedicated to Christ and lived every day for Him. She has been a wonderful wife and mother – all rolled up into one energetic lady!”
Of her husband, Mrs. Fowler wrote this poem on November 4, 1994, titled “To My Husband”:
“In the early hours of morning
And at eventide,
I pause to thank the Father
For the one who’s by my side.
O God has surely blest me in
This life for Him I live.
I never dreamed in growing up
What a wondrous gift He’d give.
The one He chose for me to love
Is as good as man can be.
His life displays a love of truth
And great integrity.
Honor is in his heart and mind,
And loyalty also.
Truth is always on his lips.
He’s the finest man I know.
So I daily thank the Lord
For the one He let me marry
And that in our hearts each day
The love of God we carry.”
Their four sons are:
* Alpha A. (Berry) Fowler III, a professor of pulmonary medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond;
* Raymond L. (Ray) Fowler, a doctor in the emergency room of Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas;
* Joseph H. (Joe) Fowler, a partner in the Douglasville law firm of Hartley, Rowe and Fowler; and
* Edward M. (Ned) Fowler, executive vice-president of Synovus Securities and an investment counselor with the Bank of North Georgia in Douglasville.
Their seven grandchildren are Emily, Allison, Joby, Katie, Anne, Mills, Evan and their deceased granddaughter Elizabeth “who went to heaven at the age of four,” wrote Mrs. Fowler in her book.
Douglasville Councilman Dennis McLain said General Fowler, a Sunday School teacher for 50 years, “loved this town,” giving “a lot to people who didn’t have.” He added, “Sonny Fowler was a great and dear friend to me.”
General Fowler was instrumental in the establishment of the:
* Georgia Air National Guard,
* Georgia Republican Party,
* Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins,
* The International Garden at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens,
* National Guard unit in Douglasville,
* Douglas County Federal and
* the first movie theater in Douglasville on the site of the present city hall.
In 2001, General Fowler received the Chairman’s Award from the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame. In 2003, the year of his passing, he was the recipient of the Founders Award for Excellence in Leadership from Leadership Douglas.