John Ford Thomas Cowen, Sr.
April 26, 2018

John Ford Thomas Cowen, Sr.

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Sacred Heart Catholic Church
602 E. Elizabeth Street
Brownsville, TX  78520
Sunday, April 29, 2018
5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
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Recitation of the holy rosary
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
602 E. Elizabeth
Brownsville, TX  78520
Sunday, April 29, 2018
7:00 p.m.
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Funeral Mass
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
602 E. Elizabeth
Brownsville, TX  78520
Monday, April 30, 2018
1:00 p.m.
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Val Verde Memorial Gardens Crematory
Donna, TX  78537

Autism Speaks
1060 State Road 2nd Floor
Princeton, NJ  08540
Click Here to Donate

St. Joseph's Academy
101 St. Joseph Dr.
Brownsville, TX  78520

Gladys Porter Zoo
500 Ringgold St.
Brownsville, TX  78520

John Ford Thomas Cowen, Sr. died peacefully on April 26th at home, surrounded by his loving family. He was diagnosed with cancer less than two weeks before his death.

John was born in Brownsville, Texas in 1948, the third of Virginia Bryant Cowen and Louis Raphael Cowen’s eleven children. He entered the world “larger than life” weighing 13 lbs. 8 oz., breaking Mercy Hospital records at the time.

John and his siblings descend from a long line of storied Texans. His great grandfather, Louis Cowen, immigrated to Texas from Kowal, Poland in 1847. One of his great, great grandfathers was William Neale, Brownsville’s first mayor, who built the first residence in the city in 1834. John’s namesake is his other great, great grandfather, Colonel John Salmon “Rip” Ford, a legendary Texas Ranger, mayor of both Brownsville and Austin, and commander of the southern troops at the last battle of the Civil War.

John’s father passed away when John was fifteen years old. According to his siblings, he stepped into the paternal role, guiding his siblings spiritually, helping put food on the table, and encouraging his younger siblings to go to college. He attended North Texas State University, where he started as an art major, later switching to finance, obtaining his master’s degree, and working as a professor at North Texas State University, Sul Ross University, and Pan American University.

Upon leaving the academic world, he pursued his entrepreneurial spirit and eventually founded the Cowen Group, which includes interests in US and Mexican custom brokerage, warehousing, logistics, and commercial and multi-family real estate. Many who knew him attribute his success to his formidable character, charisma, pure grit, and intelligence.

John was a man of great generosity, consistently giving to people less fortunate, especially for those in need of education. He was passionate about giving to local non-profit organizations along with supporting autism research and advocacy. John was also an avid collector of books, art, and historical artifacts. He combined his generosity with a love of travel, by taking many people on amazing trips around the world.

More than anything, he loved his family and friends, making each person feel special and loved, with his booming voice and contagious laugh. He wanted to make everyone around him happy and he changed many lives with his love and generosity.

John’s first child, Natalie (Nacho) Gonzalez passed away after a long battle with breast cancer on April 15th of last year. He is survived by his three youngest children: John (Robin) Cowen, Jr., Benjamin Cowen, and Megan (Leo) Stinson, along with his five grandchildren: Mia and Ava Gonzalez, Grace and Jack Cowen, and Leo Stinson V. He is also survived by all ten of his siblings: Virginia, Ralph (Susan), Paul (Tami), Philip (Fran), Thomas, Theresa (Marty) Wildi, Margaret (Johnny) Wise, Elizabeth, David (Susan), Catherine (Danel) Olson and numerous nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be held at Sacred Heart Church located at 602 E. Elizabeth St. in Brownsville, TX on Sunday, April 29, 2018 from 5:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. with a Holy Rosary recited at 7:00 P.M. Mass of Resurrection will be held on Monday, April 30, 2018 at 1:00 P.M. at Sacred Heart Church in Brownsville, TX with Father Amador Garza officiating. All services will conclude after the Mass, and in accordance with John’s wishes cremation will follow.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made in memory of John F. Cowen, Sr. to Autism Speaks, 1060 State Road, 2nd Floor Princeton, NJ 08540 or online at, St. Joseph Academy, 101 St. Joseph Drive, Brownsville, TX 78520 or Gladys Porter Zoo, 500 Ringgold Street, Brownsville, Texas 78520.

You may go online to view the obituary and video tribute, sign the guestbook, and extend your condolences online to the Cowen family at

Funeral Arrangements have been entrusted to Darling-Mouser Funeral Home 945 Palm Blvd, Brownsville, TX 78520, 956-546-7111.


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  1. Lori Weber

    John will be deeply missed by our entire circle of family and friends. He was a loving spiritual force in our lives and we will be forever grateful to him for his generosity and love.

  2. Daniela and Fiorenzo Burberi

    Our most sincere condolences to the family. John Sr. was a wonderful person. We are very happy to have had the opportunity to know him

  3. Van Vaughn

    John was a true friend for more than half a century. Our daughters were great friends until Natalie's passing. I pray that our Father will minister peace and comfort to John's family and extended family as they mourn his passing.

  4. Dr. & Mrs. Carlos Monarrez
    Brownsville, TX

    Our deepest condolences to John Cowens family. May our Lord bless and comfort you during this time of grief. RIP Mr. Cowen.

  5. Bill & Sheri Conner
    Boerne, TX

    Dear All,
    Sheri and I had the privilege of knowing John for many years. We always looked forward to talking with him and spending time around him. We're all better people for knowing him. Our sincerest condolences to the whole family. He will be missed.

  6. Barbara and Sergio Martinez, and Jessica and Nicky
    Brownsville, TX

    John, we're so sorry for your loss. Your father was bigger than life! He always had a smile for everyone. And I am sure he was always very proud of you all. May your memories of him comfort you in these times. We'll be praying for all of you. Sergio, Barbara, Jessica & Nicky

  7. Carlos Garza
    Brownsville, TX

    My most sincere condolences, I have the Cowen family in my thoughts and prayers. Mr.Cowen will be greatly missed but is the time to celebrate his remarkable life.

  8. Frank Klinger
    Brownsville, TX

    I knew John from Sacred Heart when his parents were still alive and his mother was a close friend of my mother Martha Klinger. He was also a customer and friend over the years when I was in Los Fresnos and we had a great relationship. Really a great guy really did something with his life.
    Frank Klinger

  9. Jimmy Barnard
    Brownsville, TX

    John was a wonderful friend & client. I enjoyed our long talks and his wise advice. He was always happy, treated everyone fair, made decisions quickly and was generous and kind with his words deeds and actions.
    His optimism, faith and eternal hope was what I admired and respected in him.
    Brownsville and the world are better because of John’s life.
    He will be missed. May God bless his family now and always. Jimmy

  10. Bill and Tammi Greer
    Harlingen, TX

    Our Deepest Condolences.
    May John RIP.

  11. Joe and Marcia Raley
    Brownsville, TX

    John was a self-made man and will be missed by so many. Warm condolences to his beautiful family.

  12. Joe and Marcia Raley
    Brownsville, TX, TX

  13. John Feltus
    McKinney, TX

    John was a great guy and a good friend. The world is a sadder place without you. To Ralph and the rest of the Cowen's, my heartfelt sympathies and prayers.

  14. Armando Galvan Longoria
    Brownsville, TX

    My most sincere condolences to the Cowen family.

  15. Karla and Fernando
    rancho viejo, TX

    Prayers to the family, may comfort find its way and give you peace.
    Amazing human, excellent advisor and a joker. Thank you for allowing us to get to know you, it was not for long, but long enough to miss you! Rest in peace.

  16. , TX

  17. Carlos A. Rios and Family
    Brownsville, TX

    My deepest condolences to the Cowen Family. R.I.P.

  18. Cecilia Turrent-Voreis and Marifer Caso-Hodgson
    Brownsville, TX

    Dear John, we will miss you a lot, but we know you are with Jesus now enjoying His presence. Marifer and I always remember the wonderful time together when Megan and her were younger. All our love and a big hug to all our dear Cowen friends.

  19. Cecilia Turrent and Marifer Caso Hodgson
    , TX

  20. Maribel G. Noguera
    Brownsville, TX

    My deepest condolences to all the Cowen family for their loss.... God bless you all.

  21. Mejia & Rose Inc.
    Brownsville, TX

    Our deepest sympathies go out to the Cowen family. May God give you the comfort and peace that you seek.

  22. Laura Wood-Smith
    Lago Vista, TX

    We extend our sincerest condolences to the entire Cowen family. Many prayers for comfort and peace of mind.

  23. Dee-Dee Lopez
    Brownsville, TX

    My Condolences for the family, Mr. Cowen was an amazing person who will be truly missed. Prayers and well wishes to the family.

  24. Martin&Teresa Wildi
    Jonestown, TX

    My condolences to Johnny & Megan Cowen and family

  25. Janie Velasquez
    Brownsville, TX

    My most sincere condolences, I offer the Cowen family my thoughts, prayers and well-wishes during this sad time.

  26. Jim Galbraith
    Galveston, TX

    Thoughts, wishes and condolences. The Cowen family has meant much to our Firm, McLeod, Alexander, Powel & Apffel, and to me.

  27. Adrian Rodriguez
    Brownsville, TX

  28. Lynn Little Saldana
    Brownsville, TX

    My condolences to your family for your loss. God bless!

  29. Dora Mobtemayor Shilvock
    San Antonio, TX

    Rest in peace my next door neighbor growing up. God bless

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