James McCowan

1932 - 2013


James McCowan

Oct. 10, 1932 — May 2, 2013

James Ivan McCowan was born Oct. 10, 1932, in Emmett, Idaho, to Teddy and Ivan McCowan. He died peacefully at age 80 in Richland on May 2, 2013, with his daughters by his side.

Jim grew up in various towns in Idaho and Oregon and in 1949 the family moved to Walla Walla, where his father worked as a civil engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Jim graduated from Walla Walla High School in 1951. He then joined the Navy and served in Yokosuka, Japan, during the Korean conflict. During his service in San Diego, he married his high school sweetheart, Ruth Boicourt. After discharge from the Navy he returned to Walla Walla and attended Whitman College. He completed his B.A. at Central Washington University and took his first teaching job in Moses Lake and then in Oxnard, Calif. In 1962 the family moved to Richland, where Jim taught at Marcus-Whitman and Jason Lee elementary schools until retirement in 1992.

Jim is survived by his wife, Ruth; daughters, Karen Penix and Debbie Minnehan; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. His survivors also include brothers, Donald and Steven McCowan; sisters, Janice Box and Kathleen Hande. He will be remembered for his love of family, gardening and cooking as well as his generous and cheerful spirit. He will be deeply missed by all his family.

A memorial celebration will be held on Thursday, May 23, 2013, from 5-7:30 p.m. in the gymnasium of Jason Lee Elementary School in Richland.


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