Arlen E. “Red” McDowell

Arlen E. “Red” McDowell, 88, of Ottumwa, died Tuesday, October 27, 2020 at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines.

A private family visitation will be held. The graveside funeral service for Mr. McDowell will be 1:30 PM on Friday, October 30 at the St. Alphonsus Cemetery in Mt. Pleasant, where interment will take place. Military Honors will be conducted by the Henry County Honor Guard.

Those considering an expression of sympathy may direct memorials to the family. On line condolences may be left at

Arlen Eugene “Red” McDowell was born December 16, 1931 in Lowell, Henry County, Iowa. He was the son of Deryl Devere and Elsie Lavonne (Thornburg) McDowell. As a youth, he moved with his family to Fairfield. He graduated from Fairfield High School. On December 27, 1956 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Fairfield, Red was united in marriage to Nancy Cecelia Wick. They would have celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary this year.

Mr. McDowell was inducted into the United States Marine Corps on February 12, 1952 in Des Moines, IA. He was stationed in Japan and honorably discharged on February 4, 1954 in San Francisco, CA to the Reserves. He was discharged from the Marine Corps reserves on February 11, 1960.

Red began his working career as a salesman for the Goodyear Store in Ottumwa. For 12 years, Red was a mechanic in the garage of the Lowenburg Bakery, maintaining the fleet of delivery trucks. He then became a truck driver of the Swartz Metal Company. He retired in 1994.

Red enjoyed traveling and camping, especially to those places where he could fish for trout. He was a great storyteller. His family was very dear to him, and he loved the time he could spend with them. In his quite moments, Red liked to read about nature and history.

Those thankful for sharing in Red’s life include his wife Nancy of Ottumwa; 3 children and their spouses – Theresa & Mike Wallace of Blue Grass, IA, Kim & Tim Thornbrugh of Cedar, IA, and Kevin Joseph & Connie McDowell of Ottumwa; a brother and his wife, Randy & Patty McDowell of Fairfield; a sister – Patricia Coffin of Fairfield; a sister-in-law – Amy McDowell; 7 grandchildren – Amy (Jeff) Scott, Sharon Wallace, Lisa (James) Sullivan, Joshua Thornbrugh (Shannon Ash), Jessica (Chris) Stuckey, J.D. (Heather) Copple and Levi (Raelyn) McDowell,; 16 great grandchildren, 1 great-great granddaughter and many nieces, nephews and friends.

His parents, brother Doug McDowell, sister Wilda Nelson and great granddaughter Kensley precede Red in death.