ILWACO - Ocean Park resident Leslie "Mel" Bowdish, 78, died Jan. 25, 2008, in Ilwaco. One of 11 children born to Homer and Beulah (Rains) Bowdish, he was born July 18, 1929, in Pierre, S.D. He grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation with his parents where he obtained his education.

He served with the U.S. Army as a cook for several years and retired as a corporal. When his military service was over, he returned to South Dakota where he again worked as a cook. In the early 1960s he moved with his mother to Longview. Among his cooking jobs there was a stint at The Crater House near Mount St. Helens where he gained the nickname "Mel."

In 1986 he moved to Long Beach where he and his wife Vivian managed the City Center Apartments. For the next 19 years he worked at Gas 'N Grub in downtown Long Beach. There he perfected his technique of making waffle cones for their ice cream customers, retiring several years ago. Even then he enjoyed keeping in touch with the many friends he made over the years at what is now Scoopers.

Mr. Bowdish enjoyed sturgeon fishing, weed-eating his yard, playing cribbage and Yahtzee, and collecting hat pine and frog figurines. He also enjoyed watching game shows on TV and playing his handheld poker game. He was very dedicated to his family and he was the special element that held it together.

He and Vivian Whitted were married in Chinook in 1987. She survives residing at the family home. Also surviving are his daughter Andrea Parks of Long Beach; sister Ardith Spain of Longview; stepchildren Brenda Williams of Phoenix, Ariz., Patrick Williams of Fall Brook, Calif., Michael Williams of Vancouver, and Tia Whitehead of Ocean Park; grandchildren Amanda Rasmussen, Christine Chilson, Andy Williams, Tony Williams and Robert Whitehead; and great-grandchildren Colin Rasmussen, Brady Rasmussen and Taylor Chilson and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by nine siblings.

A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, Feb. 9, at 1 p.m., at Penttila's Chapel by The Sea in Long Beach. A reception follows at the chapel. The guest book may be signed at

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