Lorie Fowlke became the first female police officer of Santa Barbara, California, in the early 1970s. The enforcement of affirmative action gave female applicants more points during the police officer applicant process. Her first police chief thought hiring her was “some kind of joke.”
“My mother used to tell me, and I believed it, she told me I could do anything I wanted if I wanted to do it badly enough,” Fowlke said.
The example of her mother led Fowlke, 63, through a life of police work, law school and time at the Utah Legislature, as well as writing a book or two on the side and raising six children.
Fowlke learned at a young age to see change in life as a great adventure. After her father was killed in a plane crash in 1957, her mother took a job as a teacher for the Church Educational System in Tonga. After graduating from high school at age 15, Fowlke moved back to Provo to pursue her bachelor’s degree at BYU in criminal justice; but she struggled to adjust to her new life in Utah.
“I do not have words to describe the depth of the culture shock I went through coming from Tonga to Provo,” Fowlke said, smiling wryly.
Her law partner, Tom Scribner, attributes parts of Fowlke’s common sense to her time in Tonga. “That culture doesn’t value things like we do,” Scribner said. “She doesn’t really care so much about collecting trinkets.” This mentality propelled Fowlke into devoting her time toward helping others instead of looking to earn a lot of money.
Fowlke now spends a typical workday in her Orem law office as a partner specializing in family law at Scribner Fowlke, P.C. On weekends, Fowlke and her husband ride horses on some of their favorite trails in the mountains. She spends much of her time with her children. She taught each of them to chase their dreams, just as her own mother taught her.
The first female police officer in Santa Barbara, California
With her diploma in hand, Fowlke looked at a map and saw a world of possibilities. On her 21st birthday, she picked two of her favorite cities and applied to local police academies.
Fowlke received the first offer from Santa Barbara and moved there. The novelty of a female police officer meant increased scrutiny of her performance.
“The press followed me. They had scanners, and they would follow me to my calls and they would be there with their cameras set up even before I got there,” Fowlke said.
Fowlke served on the force in Santa Barbara for several years until she realized many of the people she arrested would be on the streets the next day.
“I thought to myself, ‘Clearly the cops don’t have any power. You’re going to have to be a lawyer to make anything happen,'” she said. She began searching for law schools.
While Fowlke patrolled the streets, her future husband bumped into her mother 7,000 miles away in Jerusalem. Her mother introduced the couple, and they married 18 months later.
Law school with six children
In 1990, 37-year-old Fowlke felt that it was time for her to go to law school. She knew balancing time with her six children and her husband would be challenging but worth it. Her time as a police officer showed her she could help more people with a law degree. It took some convincing, but her husband, Will, said he knew law school would help his wife develop the many talents God expected her to develop.
“I don’t know if there’s an ideal time when you have six kids to have that experience, but looking back, it worked out,” husband Will Fowlke said.
After balancing law school and raising six children, Fowlke graduated and worked for Jeffs & Jeffs, P.C. She published a book in 2003 called “Thinking Divorce? Think Again!” to help couples to understand the complexities they could face through divorce.
The couple decided they needed to simplify their lives but that’s when the phone began to ring.
Several prominent figures of the community called and urged Fowlke to run for public office. She said they kept asking her to run because they thought she would beat the incumbent and make a good representative. Weeks later, she and her husband found themselves working to get her elected as a representative of the Utah Legislature.
“We went in with both feet; we had no idea what we were doing, and I loved it,” Fowlke said.
After beating the incumbent, Fowlke worked to improve legislation affecting family law and water rights.
“She really didn’t go in there with an agenda,” Scribner said. “She went in to use her skill set to help progress Utah in family law; she has drafted much of the statutory stuff in the last 10 years.”
Since 2010 Fowlke now spends more time being referred to as “Ama” by her grandkids, a name she coined when she felt too young to be called Grandma.
Fowlke’s commitment to follow her mother’s advice to chase her dreams still guides her decisions.
“She taught me that and that’s why I always think of her when I think of any successes I’ve had, because she never told me I couldn’t do something,” she said.
Fowlke said she looks forward to finishing writing her second book, which focuses on the importance of marriage. She plans to spend many Saturdays as “Ama” with her grandchildren. A book about her mother’s adventures may also be in her future.