Princeton resident Martina Bowen obtained her American citizenship on Sept. 12 after moving to the U.S. 20 years ago from Germany.

PRINCETON — Martina Bowen received American citizenship on Sept. 12 after coming to the country from Germany 50 years ago.

“I left Germany in 1972, I came on December 2 with my first husband, and I lived in Maryland then,” Bowen said.

Bowen was originally from what was in the past known as the East side of the country, but she and her family moved to the West about an hour from Frankfurt. This all happened just before the talks of the Berlin Wall began.

She eventually met her first husband while at work, and she still lived in Germany at the time.

“He was in the service, and I worked in a little cafe over there which is where I met him,” she said. “We started going out, and he eventually asked me to come over here with him and I did.”

Bowen was only 18 when she got here, and in a short period of time she was married, she had a baby, and then divorced her first husband.

It was not until meeting her second husband that she moved to West Virginia.

“My second husband was from West Virginia, so after we got married, we moved here and I’ve been here ever since then,” said Bowen.

She has now lived in Mercer County for more than 20 years, and in that time she has worked several jobs here including bartending and waitressing, which she did at the local Shoney’s for around 20 years.

Bowen said she has really enjoyed living in Princeton. She said that the community is just great for her and that she loves the people here.

“I like a small town environment more than a big town, so I really love this place. Though Princeton has really grown a lot since I came here,” she said.

Bowen is very involved in the community even now that she is retired.

She is a member of the Princeton Health and Fitness Center where she does water aerobics which she said she really enjoys.

“We are a close class, and once a month we go out to lunch at different places all around. Last week we went to Hinton, we go to Pipestem, Bramwell, and all over the place,” she said.

Though she has made relationships and a life here, Bowen still embraces her German roots.

She is a part of a group called Germans of West Virginia, and they meet frequently all over the state to bond and catch up. Bowen says she doesn’t attend the far away meetings, but she tries to go when they come into Beckley.

Bowen said she used to visit Germany more frequently than she does now, but since her husband’s death 12 years ago, traveling got harder.

This was a big part of her wanting to get her citizenship.

“It’s hard to travel to D.C. to get passports renewed, go to Charleston to get Green Cards renewed, and at that point, I just kind of weighed the costs,” she said.

In order to get a citizenship, you have to do it within a year of a green card expiring, so she tried to do it 10 years ago, though it was too hard at that point.

She now has more support from friends she has in the community.

“Several friends of mine encouraged me to do it, and they said ‘We’ll help you do it’ and I said yes,” said Bowen.

Bowen began the process of naturalization at the beginning of this year.

“In March, I went and checked everything, and just decided to go ahead and do it,” she said. “I got the appointment to take my test in June, and then two weeks ago, I got my citizenship.”

The process of her test included traveling to Pittsburg, Pa. and a 100 question test. She was asked the questions orally by a proctor.

Bowen passed the test and was able to get naturalized in Charleston.

She said she is very grateful to get to be a citizen in American and that she loves it here.

“It’s not been easy over the years here, but it’s all worked out good,” she said. “I really love it here.”

Bowen added, “I have a lot more freedom here, and I just like that things are a little bit broader and easy going than in Germany.”

— Contact Kassidy Brown at kbrown@bdtonline.com.

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