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 https://www.autismspeaks.org/, 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 www.darlingmouser.com.
Funeral Arrangements have been entrusted to Darling-Mouser Funeral Home 945 Palm Blvd, Brownsville, TX 78520, 956-546-7111.