Herbert S. Cowan
Herbert S. Cowan, a member of the Greatest Generation, passed away peacefully in his sleep during the early morning hours of Thursday, September 6, 2018, in Orono, after a period of failing health. Herb was born in Orono, Maine, on November 9, 1924, the youngest of five children born to Franklin H. and Helen G. (Daley) Cowan. Herb resided in Orono his entire life where he attended Orono schools, leaving Orono High School after his sophomore year to serve his country during World War II. He and his cousin Donald, also of Orono, both enlisted at the same time. Herb joined the Army-Air Force and was stationed in San Diego, California, where he worked on P-38 Lightning aircraft. Donald, who joined the Army infantry, was tragically killed in Operation Market Garden prior to the Battle of the Bulge, which affected Herb deeply for the remainder of his life. Returning to Orono at the end of the war, Herb married Kathryn (Kay) Spencer, also of Orono, on Jan. 11, 1947. Herb and Kay settled in Orono, where they raised two sons, Stan and Bill.
Herb epitomized the phrase, “self-made man”. He began his career as a meat-cutter for Swift and Co. in Bangor where he was employed for several years, gradually working his way up to becoming manager of the meat department at Doug’s Shop and Save store in Orono. Following the expansion of Doug’s Shop and Save stores into the surrounding central Maine area, Herb became vice-president of the organization which later became Hannaford’s, supervising a chain of over eight grocery stores. Herb was known for being an exacting supervisor, with his Irish temper occasionally on display. However, he was always fair, and especially believed in giving young employees with a good work ethic the opportunity to advance.
Herb was a long-term member and past-president of the Kiwanis Club in Orono, devoting many hours to their annual benefit auction and volunteering as a visitors’ guide for many athletic events at the University of Maine at Orono. A devout Catholic, Herb regularly attended St. Mary’s Church in Orono, always proud of his Irish Catholic heritage.
Both Herb and Kay became avid golfers, spending many enjoyable years as members of the Penobscot Valley Country Club where they established many close friendships. Herb was extremely proud of scoring two holes-in-one on the PVCC course, an achievement that provided him much satisfaction throughout his lifetime. After his retirement from Hannaford’s, Herb and Kay spent the winter months in Florida to continue pursuing their love of golf.
Herb greatly enjoyed his grandchildren, Christopher, Jordana and Emily, who were a special source of pride. He was present when Chris returned safely from the Iraq War, and especially enjoyed his shared interest in horses with his granddaughter Jordana. Herb also gladly chauffeured his granddaughter Emily to school on many occasions, appreciating this time with her and just being “Grandpa”.
During his retirement years, Herb began each day having coffee at Pat’s Pizza in Orono, along with his brothers Charles and Jack and fellow retirees Dean Anderson, George Gonyar, George Thibodeau and others. They bantered about current events, town politics, or whatever topics came to mind. The “Geritol Group”, as they became known, was a regular fixture at Pat’s, which earned them a story in the Bangor Daily News in 2003.
When Kay was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Herb devoted himself to her care. They shared 64 years together until her passing in 2011. After developing his own health issues, Herb eventually moved to Orono Commons, where he lived comfortably until his long and successful life came to an end.
Herb is survived by his son Stan and daughter-in-law, Wendy, of North Berwick, and his son Bill, of Bangor, and partner, Johnna Brazier. Herb will be especially missed by his three grandchildren, Christopher Cowan, of Belgrade Lakes, Jordana Thompson, of Berwick, and Emily Cowan, of Brooklyn, New York, his sister-in-law, Cecilia Nadeau of Enfield, who was a constant source of support to Herb throughout his illness, his brother-in-law, William Spencer, and his wife, Nancy, of Haines City, Florida, as well as several nieces and nephews. Herb was predeceased by his beloved wife, Kathryn, his parents, Frank and Gertrude Cowan, his brothers, Charles Cowan, of Old Town, and Jack Cowan, of Bangor, his sister, Rita Kelleher, of Millinocket, and his sister, Gertrude, who died in infancy.
The family wishes to express their deep appreciation to Herb’s wonderful home caregivers from Premier Home Care and to the nurses and staff at Orono Commons for their great care and support.
A Funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, September 11, at Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Family Church, 429 Main St., Old Town, with the Rev. Wilfred Labbe, pastor and celebrant. The family invites relatives and friends to share refreshments, conversation and remembrances at a reception following the Rite of Committal at Riverside Cemetery, Orono.
Those wishing to remember Herb in a special way may contribute to Alzheimer's Association, 170 U.S. Route 1, Suite 250, Falmouth, ME 04105.
Condolences to the family may be expressed at BrookingsSmith.com.