Gwendolyn Wilson Fowler


"We believe that Ms. Fowler has distinguished herself as an outstanding citizen of the United States, a woman of unique, special qualities and accomplishments, a Black American and most importantly, as an Iowan."
—Ronald N. Langston & Inga Bumbary-Langston, 1987

Gwendolyn Fowler of Des Moines, a pioneer woman of her time, has taken part in many of the great social changes of the nation and world and has opened doors of opportunity for minorities and women. She was the first African-American woman pharmacist licensed in Iowa, in 1930. Unable to find employment in her profession, she devoted 15 years to teaching school in Holly Springs, Mississippi. From 1945 to 1955, she was employed by the State of Iowa as a pharmacist's clerk and then as a chemist. As a presidential appointee in the U.S. Foreign Service, she was stationed in Vietnam for 4 1/2 years. In 1960, she resumed her career as a chemist in Des Moines, retiring in 1974. Fowler was a charter member of the Junior NAACP in (1920) and of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (1932) and is a lifetime member of the NAACP. She has been a leader in such organizations as the American Red Cross, Willkie House, AAUW, and her church, and serves on the Mayor's Sister City Commission. Her collection of Oriental art is outstanding. She has received many citations and awards, including the Governor's Volunteer Award, and has been a role model for many women throughout her life. Fowler was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1987.

UPDATE: Fowler died November 19, 1997.