Mearl Sowers, former CT race secretary, passes

The Charles Town racing community lost a longtime member recently as the track’s former Racing Secretary Mearl “Lonnie” Sowers passed away last week at the age of 82.

Sowers got his start in the racing industry rubbing horses for J.P. Simpson in the late 1950’s before taking time away from the backstretch to begin a career in the racing offices of the West Virginia and Maryland circuits in the decade that followed. 

He would then once again find himself back at the barn in 1974 when he became an assistant trainer for Bud Delp, overseeing a shed row of 50 horses until 1978.  Most notably in his time with Delp, Sowers called his boss to tell him he had seen something different after laying eyes on the first workout of a dark gray colt who had shipped into his barn several weeks prior.  The colt, who turned out to be 1979 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Spectacular Bid, would go on to win 26 of 30 lifetime starts in his Hall of Fame career.

After leaving the backstretch for the final time in 1978, Sowers reprised his role in the Charles Town racing office, working his way up to the position of Racing Secretary in 1995 – a role he held until the track was sold.  With his love of the racing industry, Sowers continued to work as an assistant mutuel manager in the mutuels department until his retirement in 2007.

Sowers is survived by his wife of 61 years, Margaret “Peggy” Lynn Horsley Sowers; two children, including Charles Town’s current Racing Manager Duane Sowers, eight grandchildren and fifteen great grandchildren.  In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by one brother, Thomas Sowers, Jr.

Funeral services will be held 1 p.m. Monday, February 7 at the Jefferson Chapel in Ranson, West Virginia with the family receiving friends from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Sunday at the Chapel.