A Brief History

The John Edward Fowler Memorial Foundation began on November 19, 1964, as a nonprofit corporation in Delaware. The corporation to honor her late husband was created by Pearl Gunn Fowler shortly before she died, and her estate funded the newly created Foundation.

John Edward Fowler was born in Lake City, Minnesota October 13, 1876, the son of John C. Fowler and Abbie Gould Fowler. John was a descendent of General Amos Fowler, a member of General George Washington’s staff during the American Revolution War.

At age eight, John’s family moved to Richmond, Virginia, where he lived until 1920. He married Pearl Gunn, a debutante in Richmond, a beautiful woman and an artist’s model. They had one daughter, Dorothy Gould Fowler. The John Edward Fowler family moved to the District of Columbia in 1920.

John invented the formula for Cherry Smash Soda in 1901. In 1920 he purchased the real property of Arlington Brewery that was closed due to Prohibition, for $50,000. The property is near the Key Bridge in Rosslyn, Virginia. John produced and sold Cherry Smash for thirty years throughout the East Coast. It was reported that his Cherry Smash earnings exceeded $1,000,000. In the 1950’s he sold his Cherry Smash business for $500,000 and leased his Key Bridge real estate to Marriott to construct and open a Hot Shoppe restaurant and a large hotel on the site.

John Edward Fowler had other businesses. In 1933, when Prohibition ended, he established the Dixie Brewery Co., but did not produce beer – likely because of the success of his Cherry Smash business. Also, at the site he operated a liquid carbonic plant and a lithographic plant, both of which were taken over by the government during WWII. The liquid carbonic plant produced gas for rubber rafts used during the war. John Edward Fowler produced and sold Cherry Smash during the war.

John Edward Fowler and Pearl were the majority stockholders of Arlington Trust Co.; he was a board member, chairperson of the board and past president. A newspaper article in 1959, when he was 83, reported he never had missed a board meeting and said he would “never” retire.

John Edward Fowler died on April 7, 1960, in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was survived by Pearl Gunn Fowler and Dorothy Fowler Cooper. Pearl’s Estate was probated in 1966 and her real property was distributed to the John Edward Fowler Memorial Foundation, including the real estate she inherited from her husband at Key Bridge.

Janie Gammon Lee, an attorney for Pearl Gunn Fowler, served as the Executrix of the Pearl Gunn Fowler Estate and as a Trustee and President of the John Edward Fowler Memorial Foundation. Richard Lee, Janie Gammon’s son, after his mother was incapacitated, became a Trustee and President of the Foundation, and served until his retirement in 2020.

The rent paid by Marriott on the Key Bridge real property provided income starting in 1966 to enable the Foundation to make grants to qualified charitable organizations in the District of Columbia area. In 2017, the John Edward Fowler Memorial Foundation sold the Key Bridge realty to Marriott. Investments from the sale enabled the Foundation to increase its annual grants.

John Edward Fowler Memorial Foundation is to honor the memory of John Edward Fowler and to support charitable organizations, primarily in the District of Columbia metropolitan area. Over the decades, the Foundation granted millions to worthy charities and continues to consider and grant essential funding to charities that assist in education, meeting medical needs, providing food and housing, meeting social needs of youth, and aiding employment of needy people. In making its grants the Foundation does not discriminate based on race, religion or any other factors barred under law.