Mary Lou McDowell, 86, a resident of rural Avilla and widow of Robert F. McDowell, passed away at 5:40 a.m. on Monday, March 21, 2016 at Parkview Noble Hospital in Kendallville. She had been taken to the hospital one week ago from North Ridge Village Nursing Home in Albion, and had been more seriously ill for the past two weeks. \nMrs. McDowell was born in Wolf Lake on January 26, 1930, a daughter of Elza James and Leta Vesta (Stuckman) Harlan. Her formative years were spent in Merriam where her parents owned and operated a general store, and she graduated from Wolf Lake High School in 1948.\nOn January 9, 1949 she was married in Merriam to Robert F. McDowell. She was a lifelong resident of Noble County, and had lived at her present home in Green Township for the past 57 years.\nAn active member of the Merriam Christian Chapel, she had served her church in a variety of capacities over the years. A homemaker for most of her life, she loved and cherished her family and supported their various activities at school and in 4-H. She had also worked in the office at AquaTek in Churubusco for several years.\nMr. McDowell preceded her in death on December 11, 2008.\nAmong the surviving relatives are her five children Rick (Sharon) McDowell and Brent (Elizabeth) McDowell, both of Avilla, Gary (Vikki) McDowell of Albion, Jill (Terry) Shively of Columbia City, and Holly (Wayne) Gibson of Churubusco; 13 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.\nIn addition to her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by two infant brothers.\nFuneral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 25, 2016, at the Merriam Christian Chapel with Pastors John French and Steve Pulley, officiating.\nThe family will receive friends at the church multi-purpose room on Thursday from 2 to 8 p.m., or one hour prior to the service Friday morning.\nInterment will be in the Christian Chapel Cemetery, Merriam.\nSheets & Childs Funeral Home in Churubusco is in charge of the arrangements.