Young At Heart

Local author Mary Lou Nowak has just published her first book — at the age of 82. “I can’t just pick out one part; the whole book is funny,” Nowak said. “Titled ‘Listen To Me Babe ... And You’ll Be Wearing Diamonds’, it describes my efforts to work with my second husband as he tried to make a go of several bakeries and dessert places in the area.”

According to Nowak, she first met her future husband, David Kephart, one evening at a craft workshop and the next morning he called to invite her down to see his bakery.

“He showed me around,” Nowak said. “He was the only one there and was doing all the baking and when I asked who waited on customers, he said ‘you do’ and put an apron on me. Three months later, we were married.”

Kephart died unexpectedly one day in 1982 and although every day during that marriage she had written down at least one funny thing that had happened, it wasn’t until after the death of her third husband in 1998 that she decided to find a way to publish her book. “It needed some cartoons to spice it up, so I did some and my son, Martin Ellis, did a few — his are much better than mine,” Nowak said.

Nowak found a local publisher to print up copies at her expense. The first printing, of 20 copies, was finished late last year. She kept five and sold the rest and the book is now in a second printing of another 20 copies. She has also sent parts of it to several publishers, who she hopes will help her market it nationally.

Martin Ellis is one of Nowak’s six children.

“Three girls, a piano and two boys,” she said, “and the piano’s been the most rewarding, and still stays with me.”

It’s to the arts, music, drama, dance, writing, painting, that Nowak attributes her continuing energy and enthusiasm. She had her first solo art show in 1993. “I didn’t sell a thing, but I didn’t care — they’re like my children,” she said.

She not only plays the piano publicly at the Federal Way Senior Center, but also is a part-time employee there, helping to care for adults in the center’s adult day care program.

“She’s quite the lady; talented, loving, caring,” adult daycare coordinator Mary Pinches said. “She’s a go-getter, with more energy than most people half her age.”

“Don’t call me old. Just say I never grew up; I just stayed a teen-ager too long,” Nowak said. “My children will verify this. I wish them the same good fortune.”


Since this book is about baking, it is apt that Nowak is selling it personally at the Great Harvest Bread Company, 31889 Gateway Center Blvd. S., from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Or, you can call her at (253) 927-5396.

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