Now becoming well known for her whimsical wall murals,
Allison Bowers of Gleason was long recognized for her
musical ability. Under her grandmother's tutelage, she
began playing the piano at the age of four. It was a
pursuit she said was spurred by her grandfather, J.T.
Jones of Gleason.
"That's how I got into music," she says enthusiastically,
"He was a big gospel singer around here. Even now with
older people I say I'm the granddaughter of J.T. Jones and
they know exactly who I am - he knew everybody."
Her grandmother, Novella Jones, continued teaching Allison
the piano until she was seven years old after which she
studied for the next 8 years under Ms. Virginia Verdell in
By the time she was 13, Allison was playing so well that
when Sandhill Baptist Church needed a pianist, her former
babysitter referred her for the job.
"I went out there one Sunday and I've been out there ever
since," says Allison, who had previously grown up in Beech
Springs Baptist Church.
She and her husband, Nickey Bowers, a 1990 graduate of
Gleason High School and Plant Manager of Spinks Dry Plant
(Spinks Clay Company) in Gleason, are now both members of
Sandhill Baptist Church, where he is the song director.
"He's been song director since I've been there; when I got
older we just started dating," Allison laughs, explaining
that he has been attending the church all his life,
beginning the week after he was born. Before him, his
father and grandparents were members of the church.
In addition to being the church pianist, Allison is a
Sunday School teacher for the 5th grade students who
regularly attend her class; however, in the small country
church, Allison teaches all the children that come in on
Sunday: "All the kids that come in get to go with me," she
Allison and Nickey have only been married for six months,
since November 17 last year. She first completed her
education, attending Union University in Jackson after
graduating from Gleason High School in 1998 and later
transferring to the John A. Gupton College of Mortuary
Science in Nashville. She came home every weekend while
living away from home in order to play the piano on
"A year ago there wasn't anybody else who could play the
piano," she explains, "Now someone has joined who knows
how to play."
Her advent into artistry took place in 1999 when she
needed an art credit at Union, the semester before
transferring to John A. Gupton College. She chose a
drawing class to satisfy the requirement because, "I
thought that would be better than art history," she
laughs. "I ended up making some decorative posters for
some people; when somebody saw that they asked me to do
the church; then someone else called me to do a bedroom."
One of her most current works is a continuous series of 21
scenes from Bible stories that stretch all the way around
the preschool Sunday School room of the First Baptist
Church in Gleason. Using "My First Bible" as a reference,
she picked 21 of 40 Bible story scenes, her goal to choose
"the best known - so anyone that walks through will
understand the pictures."
Beginning with Adam and Eve, the labeled scenes depict the
adventures of Noah's Ark; Joseph and the Coat of Many
Colors; Moses and the Ten Commandments; the Walls of
Jericho; David and Goliath; Wise Solomon; Queen Esther;
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; Daniel and the Lion's Den;
Jonah and the Whale; the Birth of Jesus; Jesus Feeds 5000;
Jesus Calms the Storm; Zacchaeus; the Prodigal Son;
Lazarus, the Last Supper; Jesus Dies on the Cross; the
Resurrection; and the Ascension.
Allison has completed eight projects to date, including
children's bedroom scenes with Winnie the Pooh and Nascar
motifs, the nursery at the First Baptist Church (as well
as the preschool Sunday School room), and dolphins (the
school mascot) painted along with other fishes on a wall
in the cafeteria of the Martin Elementary School.
She gets particular enjoyment from the Winnie the Pooh
characters that decorate her nephew, Seth's, bedroom. "Tigger
is his favorite." Allison says affectionately. Seth's
parents, Monty and Shelly Bowers, recently moved to a new
home where Seth found his Winnie the Pooh characters had
moved as well. Now nearly two years old, Seth's old
bedroom was also painted with Pooh figures by his talented
aunt. More space in the new bedroom meant Allison could
bring Pooh, Piglet and Tigger from the old scene and add
other characters like Eeyore, Owl, and Roo, plus a
multitude of honey bees, butterflies, and scenery from the
Hundred Acre Woods where the storybook characters live.
Allison's rule of thumb for painting is "show me a
picture and I'll paint it." She uses ideas from magazines
as well as storybooks, painting the Bowers' bathroom with
an "under the sea" design found in a women's magazine. She
altered some of the fish to suit her tastes and added a
special "jellyfish" using Seth's little hand as a pattern.
With Seth's room already sporting John Deere replica
equipment among the stuffed Pooh characters and other toys
that characterized his babyhood, Allison plans to paint
another room in the house with a John Deere theme, leaving
the "Pooh room" for future additions to the Bowers
Allison's parents, Barry and Aletha Jones are the owners
of Crestview Motors in Gleason where her brother, Tommy,
is employed as well.
"I'm the black sheep in the family; I'm the only one not
in the car business," she laughs.
Allison became interested in mortuary science after
writing a research paper in high school. Originally
interested in counseling, her research led her to grief
counseling and funeral directing. After writing the
research paper, she spent a day at Brummitt's Funeral Home
in a "shadowing" experience, then spent the following
summer working there and "I've been here ever since," she
She enjoys her work at the funeral home as a funeral
director and embalmer, though counseling is not now a
major part of her duties. "We all work together to get
everything done for a funeral; I usually coordinate the
music for the ceremony. We all just pitch in together and
get the job done; we know what's got to be done and we all
just pitch in and do it."
The almost-22 year old says she is "kind of where I want
to be in everything right now."
Her grandmother, Novella Jones, now lives at Lakeside
Retirement Center in McKenzie.