Peacefully, at home, Priscilla Rose Wadley Dowdy, 82, of Jackson, Missouri made her final journey to her Lord and Savior on Monday, June 8, 2020.
She and her twin sister, Patricia were born on July 12, 1937 in Mound City, Illinois, the daughters of George and Allie Caldwell Caywood.
Pris and Pat, (as they were known) grew up at 119 Pearl Street in Mound City - loving God, the Pentecostal Church on Diamond Street, country music, Elvis Presley, and their close friends, Louise and Shelby. The combination of an adventuresome spirit and the simple contentment of home were two driving forces in Priscilla’s life.
To celebrate her graduation from Mound City High School, the decision was made to hit the Florida beaches with her childhood friends. Memories were made as they soaked in the beautiful sunshine of the U.S. as it was in 1955. In 1961, that same group ventured all the way to California, culminating with a visit to Disneyland. Those who knew Priscilla, knew she could never be idle. While she was known for being as gentle and sweet as the “Rose” in her name, she could also be equally as tough as a diamond.
Like many highschoolers, Priscilla entered the work force. Her first hire was at the sewing factory in Mound City. After some time, she began working for Illinois Bell Telephone Company in Cairo--yet friends could find her roller-skating, listening to Elvis, and faithfully attending church. Her twin sister would marry early. So, with her sidekick now focused on married life, Priscilla would venture beyond her hometown with childhood friends for trips to Florida and beyond. She loved telling the story about the time she made the pilgrimage to Graceland, knocking on Elvis’ front door to see if he was home. But the King would soon be replaced by a different man in her life, for she would soon meet James Michael “Mike” Wadley. They were married September 18, 1963, in Cairo, Illinois, and enjoyed a honeymoon to Niagara Falls in New York.
The two made their first home in Cairo, at 521 Center Street (right next door to her loving in-laws). In the pivitol year of 1969, with sons David and Darin in tow, they made a bold move to Missouri where Mike would begin a career at Charmin Paper Products Company, later known as P&G. With her husband’s new workload, Priscilla’s cross-country days began to wind down as she focused more on home and being a mom. The family attended Jackson Assembly of God. In the 1980’s, she went to work at Cape Cable TV, later known as TCI and then Charter. If she found a unique promotional “Disney” or “Movie” item, she would thoughtfully bring it home for her children to enjoy.
Mike, a beloved husband and father, battled diabetes for many years. For several years, Priscilla divided her time between work and commuting to St. Louis to care for Mike. Sadly, the disease took his life in 1989. It was a difficult season.
As years passed, she found herself reconnecting with a childhood friend, Paul Dowdy, from Wickliffe, Kentucky. They married on April 22, 1995. With their children grown and married, Priscilla and Paul ventured out with friends, camping all over the U.S. and sometimes traveling abroad.
To celebrate her retirement in 2001, Priscilla took a trip of a lifetime on an Alaskan Cruise. During their retirement years, it was common for their friends and family to see Priscilla and Paul enjoying their pecan business, traveling, spending quality time with kids, laughing with grandkids and of course, attending both Cape First and Lynwood Baptist Church. Her family was her joy, especially her grandchildren. If you would visit her home in Jackson, you would always find her being productive. If she wasn’t re-modeling or re-decorating part of her home, she was attentively caring for her artful, colorful and varied garden. Flowers and plants were a part of the charm of her backyard, and near the entrance to her door she designed and built a considerable pond and stocked it with goldfish of every color.
Through the years, her love of travel never waned. She was fond of weekend trips to Branson and spontaneous trips to visit friends in North Carolina or see family in Nashville, Tennessee. You could find her sampling clam chowder at Pike Place Market in Seattle or eating Shnitzl in Germany or feasting on Mexican food on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas. She once sold Jackson, Missouri pecans right under the Eiffel Tower in Paris. (over the phone). But if you were to ask her, she’d probably say she preferred the buffalo ribs at Babe’s Fish Wagon across the river in East Cape. But wherever she was, you could guarantee that if there was a garage sale nearby she knew exactly where it was. From Nashville to East Prairie, there wasn’t a garage sale she couldn’t sniff out, and there were few that could outsell Priscilla’s garage sale at the 100-mile yard sale, which mostly started in her neighborhood.
When her sons took up camping, Priscilla took great delight in hooking up her camper to her Ford diesel and following the boys to a campsite, just to sit by the fire and laugh about the old times. An excellent cook, Thanksgiving at her Jackson home was her specialty. Every year, from near and far, family would gather just to indulge in all the fixin’s that Priscilla had so lovingly prepared. She was a regular at Homecomers and Cardinal baseball games. But even with all the travelling and adventures, she never missed a grandchild’s recital, birthday, baseball game, or graduation. Her devotion to her grandchildren was unmatched. Against their parent’s wishes, Priscilla seemed to have stockpiles of candy, ice cream and donuts for every grandkid…and they loved her for it.
Priscilla loved Southern Gospel - and while she was okay with new songs, she always sang louder in church when traditional hymns were being sung. She also enjoyed watching Cardinal Baseball and the Pioneer Woman on TV.
Her family would lovingly kid her about how she could get Paul to fix or build anything even on a whim. She once asked him to build a bridge over the creek bed in their backyard, and he replied as he always did… with a gentle “Yes, dear.”
In 2010 she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. By the grace of God, she was one of the few who survived that ordeal-fighting the whole way. Doctors and nurses were amazed at her spirit and how she refused to give up. She would continue to have a zest for life and go on to have one more grandchild and two more great-grandchildren.
But tragedy would strike the family again, when both her first-born son, James David Wadley, and her first-born grandson, Austin Kyle Wadley, died in a motorcycle accident in September 2016. And more recently, her husband, Paul Dowdy passed away in July, 2019.
Still, amid all the adversities and hardships, it was her faith in Christ that sustained her. One of Priscilla’s earliest memories was of her mother hosting traveling-evangelists in their home. So steadfast was her love for God that her children would go on to be deacons in church and youth group volunteers. Two of them would become missionaries, and most grandchildren serve in various ministries.
If life could be summed up with a soundtrack, full of varied songs and ballads, Priscilla’s soundtrack would be full of the best songs about the road, family, love, and loss, but mostly it would be comprised of hymns…and one in particular, one of her favorites, is probably the best expression of her life:
I will cherish the old rugged cross, till my burdens at last I lay down.
I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.
To reign in the fight that was in her bones, in the end, it took a combination of a stroke, the return of cancer, a rare form of anemia, reduced liver function, and reduced ability to visit the hospital because of Covid-19.
Loving survivors include her children, Darin (Beth) Wadley, Debbie (Gabe) Martinez, Doug (Ursulla) Wadley. A daughter-n-law, Rhonda (the late David) Wadley; two step sons, Cary (Jovy) Dowdy and Luke Dowdy; nine grandchildren, Trey (Chloe) Wadley, Megan (Jake) Monteith, Caleb (Cassidy) Wadley, Drew Wadley, Reid Wadley, Eliza Wadley, Kyle Wadley, Summer Wadley, and Mirrenn Martinez; two step-grandkids, Falon and Kinley Dowdy; 2 great-grandkids, Haven Monteith, Kinzley Wadley and 3 more great-grand kids on the way (2 more Wadleys and another Monteith).
She is also survived by her twin sister, Patricia Calvin, and three Wadley sisters-n-law, Judy (Steve) Williams, Lee Anne (Danny) Hood, and Judy (the late Roger) Wadley, as well as many loving Dowdy family members in Wickliffe, Kentucky. She was beloved by all her friends and family.
Priscilla was preceded in death by her first husband, Mike Wadley, their son and grandson, David and Austin Wadley; and her second husband, Paul Dowdy.
Visitation will be from 1 to 3 p.m., Thursday, June 11, 2020, at Lynwood Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau. Rev. Mark Anderson will officiate the funeral at 3 p.m., the church. So that others can engage in the service, please check the Facebook page of any of her children for a link to a “live feed” of the service.
Interment will follow at Russell Heights Cemetery in Jackson, where Priscilla will be laid to rest next to her first husband, Mike.
Memorials may take the form of contributions to Cape First Missions Fund or Lynwood Baptist Missions Fund.
Online condolences may be sent to the family by clicking on the TRIBUTE WALL tab on Priscilla’s personal obituary page at mccombsfuneralhome.com.
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