Perry woman featured in HBO documentary dies

Mrs. Bowling passed away on 12/17/2010.  May she rest in peace.

‘American Hollow’ told family’s story

By Jim Warren

Bowling, a Perry County matriarch who appeared in American Hollow, a 1999 HBO movie about her family’s strong ties and way of life, has died.

She was 81.

Mrs. Bowling died Friday at her home on Mudlick Road near the community of Saul in Perry County, where she lived almost her entire life. Her husband, Bascum Bowling, died some years ago. They had 13 children.

As Mrs. Bowling told it, she was taking the wash off the clothesline one day in 1997 when New York filmmaker Rory Kennedy, a daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, showed up at her home.

"She came right up, and she went to helping me take clothes off and fold them up," Mrs. Bowling recalled in a 1999 interview. "That’s how we met."

Rory Kennedy had gone to Eastern Kentucky planning to do a documentary film about welfare reform in rural America. But after meeting Mrs. Bowling, she decided to do a different, more human story about the Bowling family.

The result was a 90-minute film that drew praise at the Sundance Film Festival. One reviewer said it struck a "chord of soulfulness that nothing else came close to."

American Hollow pulled no punches. It included an Easter egg hunt but also showed one Bowling son spending 17 days in jail because the family lacked bail money.

Services for Mrs. Bowling will be at 2 p.m. Monday at Mount Paran Baptist Church at Saul.



One thought on “Perry woman featured in HBO documentary dies

  • December 25, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    The obituary of Mrs.Iree Bowling

    Officiating Ministers: Rev. Bob Rice & Rev. Jerry Holland

    Mrs. Iree Bowling was born on April 26, 1929 and departed this life on December 17, 2010 at the age of 81 years. She was born at Saul, Kentucky the daughter of the late Ira Rice and the late Oma Collins Rice. By occupation she was a homemaker, and had been a lifelong resident of Perry County, KY. She enjoyed quilting, gardening and spending time with her family. Mrs. Iree Bowling was affiliated with the Mt.Paran Baptist Church at Saul, KY.

    She was preceded in death by her parents: Ira and Oma Rice; husband: Bascum Bowling and by one son: Pierce Bowling.

    She leaves surviving the following relatives: Seven Sons: Steve Bowling & Penelope of Saul, KY., Alonzo Bowling & Pauline of Saul, KY., Edgar Bowling & Charlene of Manchester, KY., Denny Bowling & Betty of Saul, KY., Oneial Bowling & Wanda of Saul, KY., Patrick Bowling & Edith of Saul, KY. and David Bowling of Cincinnati, OH.; Five daughters: Ivalene Estep & Roy R. of Saul, KY., Barbara Ann Spurlock of Oneida, KY., Thelma Harbow & Jamie of Manchester, KY., Rebecca Rice & Richard of Saul, KY. and Ruthie Gibson of Manchester, KY.; Four Brothers: Lester Rice of OH., Astor Rice of Saul, KY., Tester Rice of Carrollton, KY. and Hobert Rice of Carrollton, KY.; Five Sisters: Ellen Griffin, Mae Gibson, Lillie Hoskins and Nonalee Allen all of OH. and Easter Allmond of FL. Mrs. Iree Bowling is also survived by 32 grandchildren, 31 great grandchildren and a host of great great grandchildren as well as a host of other treasured relatives and friends.

    Funeral services for Mrs. Iree Bowling will be conducted at 2:00 P.M.- Monday – December 20, 2010 at the Mt. Paran Baptist Church at Saul, KY. with Rev. Bob Rice and Rev. Jerry Holland officiating. Burial will follow in the Ira Rice Family Cemetery located at Saul, KY. Friends may call for visitation at 3:00 p.m. – Sunday December 19, 2010 at the church. You may send your condolences to the family at

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