Cover photo for George R. Cowan's Obituary
George R. Cowan Profile Photo

George R. Cowan

d. July 14, 2011

George R. Cowan, formerly of Woodbury, New Jersey, died July 14, 2011 at the age of 89 after a long illness. Born in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, George graduated high school at 15, scoring the highest matriculation exam in the province. He graduated as a Beaverbrook Scholar from the University of New Brunswick and served in the Royal Canadian Army during World War II, working at the Army research laboratories in Ottawa, Ontario. He received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Brown University, followed by postdoctoral studies at the University of Minnesota. He became a research scientist at the DuPont De Nemours Company, working primarily at DuPont's Eastern Laboratory where he developed high-pressure technologies for making industrial diamonds from graphite, and for bonding metals including copper-cupronickel from which the first U.S. dime and quarter sandwich coins were made. He often commented that his early days at Eastern Laboratory were the happiest of his life, and he truly cherished the many friends and colleagues at the lab. He retired from the DuPont Company in 1984 as a Research Fellow. During a distinguished career in high pressure chemistry research, George published many scientific papers, obtained several patents and received several scientific awards, most notably the John Price Wetherill Medal of the Franklin Institute in 1969.

George met his future wife, Mary Katherine (Kay) Charbonneau in Ottawa during the War. They married in 1949 and had three children, John, Robert and Ann. In 1957, George and Kay and their young family moved to Woodbury, New Jersey, where they raised their family and lived for many years. In 1984, his beloved wife Kay died from cancer. Several years later he married the second love of his life, Frances (Fran) Paterson, n Martin, formerly of Huntingdon, PA, with the blessings of both George's children and Fran's five children. They spent many joyous years together in Woodbury until moving back to Huntingdon in 2009 where George received exceptional care during the later stages of his illness at the Huntingdon Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

George loved all things in life. He was an avid skier and golfer, and loved camping and canoeing when his children were young, becoming an active member of the Boy Scouts. He never missed a performance of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra or a play at the Walnut Theater. He was an avid reader and bridge player. He and first Kay and then Fran worked to renovate his beloved 18th century home in Woodbury, and were well known for both their annual Memorial Day lamb roast and stringing Christmas lights at the top of the evergreen in their front yard even after it grew to more than 20 feet high. He cheered heartily for the Philadelphia Flyers, 76ers, Eagles and, with Fran, Penn State. He loved poetry and history and late night discussions of politics, philosophy and science.

George is survived by his beloved wife Fran; his children, John and his wife Greacian Goeke, Bob and his wife Susan, and Ann and her husband Lawrence Klobutcher; and his grandchildren Patrick and Christopher Cowan, and Lauren and Julia Klobutcher, his wife's children Allie Bird, Philip and Patricia Paterson and their sons Drew and Charles, Jane and Jim Ayers and their daughter Sarah, Randolph and his sons Jessie and Nathan. He was devastated by the death of Fran's youngest daughter Kim, who held a special place in his heart. He was predeceased by his parents and his brothers John and Edgar.

Visitation Monday August 15, 2011 at 12noon until the memorial service at 1pm at the DAVIS & WAGNER FUNERAL & CREMATION SERVICES 171 Delaware St. Woodbury, NJ. Interment Woodbury Memorial Park. Memories & condolences shared at memorial service will be held Monday, August 15 at 1:00 PM at the Wagner-Davis Funeral Home, Woodbury, NJ. Memorial donations in George's name may be made to the Huntingdon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 1229 Warm Springs Avenue, Huntingdon, PA 16652.

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