Bob McCowen was a wonderful person to know and to love. A man of many special interests, yet it was evident in every way that his family meant the world to him. His genuine and good-natured ways as well as his incredible wisdom and support will forever be remembered by his many special friends and loved ones.
The 1940s were characterized by WWII. By 1947, some of the most significant inventions that would impact lives for many years to come were created including the transistor radio which lead later into us developing the resources to invent the mobile phone. That same year, Robert was born to Robert H. and Vivian J. (Smith) McCowen on January 21st, at Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His birth brought his parents’ great joy.
Growing up, Bob lived a typical childhood of the times. His parents both modeled for him the importance of hard work and dedication. His mother worked as a school secretary at Waylee Elementary and his dad was a quality control chemist for the Upjohn pharmaceutical company. Bob enjoyed Boy Scouts and participated in countless outings with his troop. His dad was a troop leader and the two of them bonded over these important years. As a family, they took many road trips around the country taking them to many popular destinations.
Always active and on the go, Bob was fortunate to land a summer job working at Upjohn as well as caddying at the Kalamazoo Country Club. He also enjoyed playing football for University High in Kalamazoo. Graduating with the Class of 1965, he set off to obtain a degree in management from Michigan State University. Bob loved to share that he crossed paths with Bubba Smith in the dining hall during his years as a Spartan! He later extended his education in accounting at Western Michigan University and was proud to receive his license as a Certified Public Accountant.
Shortly after college, Bob was married and started a family of his own with sons, Steve and Jeff. An active dad, Bob never missed a special occasion or sporting event during their growing years. Over the years, Bob traveled countless miles including travel games held late in the evening in Port Huron where he wouldn’t get back home until the early morning hours! Bob was selfless with his time and his resources in order to provide many lasting memories for his family. They enjoyed several vacations over the years including visiting the Disney World theme parks, Sylvan Resort, and trips to see his parents in Arizona. Their favorite destination however was the time they spent at Clark Lake, a gem Bob purchased back in 1984.
Whenever Bob was surrounded by his family, his heart was content. He enjoyed allowing his sons the pleasure of knowing that he was always there for them. They enjoyed quality time together whether it be on a trip traveling by train to ski the Rockies, dealing with the inconveniences and hassles of flying, or spending time on the water, they were never short on laughter! Now grown and raising their own families, Steve and Jeff are grateful for the times, and the sacrifices Bob made to give them the childhood that they experienced. Jeff recalls several times being tucked in the rear window area of the Corvette on rides home from the Beach Bar. The boys also remember staying up late on Sunday nights to watch Murder She Wrote, or the countless Christmas mornings where Bob treated them to his special waffles. It was also during this time in his life he was very active with NASCAR, and traveled with his good friend Harry Melling. Some other friends of Bob's even tested the waters with a NASCAR team of their own. They had Bob put his accounting skills to work, by planning their pitstops based on fuel mileage of the racecar. He has been to most of the historical racetracks in the country and sat on pit row boxes instead of being in the stands.
When the boys were a little older, Bob was blessed to meet Susan Humphrey Cordell. She was working at a local bank in Jackson and one day he convinced her to go to dinner in Ann Arbor and the rest was history! They both remarried on May 21, 1994, at the First United Methodist Church in Jackson, joining her three children; Heather, Michelle, and Andy, with his two sons, Steve and Jeff. Bob treated her kids as if they were his own. He enjoyed shopping and boating with Michelle and cheering on the Big Ten teams with Heather. Even if they were cheering for opposite teams, they shouted just as loud as the other! Along those lines, Bob once took Andy who is also a fan of the team in Ann Abor, to a U of M vs, MSU game along with one of Andy’s friends, who helped Bob gang up on Andy because they were both MSU fans. Bob and Andy enjoyed talking sports with one another, even though they didn’t cheer for the same college team. Sue and Bob were both fond of traveling and spending their winters at their condo in Fort Myers. They also had a cottage up north in Gaylord and spent a lot of time making memories in that region.
During the summer months, they enjoyed entertaining at their place on Clark Lake. Bob was sure to give pontoon rides to the kids and grandkids as well as grill cheeseburgers before they said their goodbyes! A real treat was when Bob would stop off at Eagle Point to swim in the deeper waters of Clark Lake. Just as he was always there for his kids’ events, he was a fixture at his grandkids’ sporting and school events just the same. Always the biggest and loudest fan at times! In addition to Clark Lake, Florida was a special place for Bob to share with his growing family. They have countless memories of boat rides to see the dolphins, splitting Key Lime pie at Charlie’s Boathouse, riding on the Dumbo ride at Magic Kingdom, as well as catching the fireworks from Epcot at the English Pub! They also recently took a trip to Ireland with Jeff to trace back family history. And much like when his boys were younger, he helped make sure grandchildren got to sporting events and did early morning drives to make sure they got to their baseball games around Michigan and Indiana.
Bob was a big fan of celebrations and lived his life to the fullest. Although he was soft-spoken at times, his family never doubted the love he held for each and every one of them. His eyes were a mirror to his soul. His family always knew when he was happy, sad, disappointed or proud as they reflected his inner thoughts and feelings. Bob was a generous and loyal person who wanted nothing but the best for the family he so loved. May his memories live on in the hearts of all those whose lives he touched and may they live their lives as an example of his love.
Robert “Bob” D. McCowen, of Clark Lake, MI passed away in Fort Myers, FL on Sunday, January 31, 2021, at the age of 74. He is survived by his wife: Sue; five children: Steve (Jenny) McCowen, of Schoolcraft; Jeff (Melanie) McCowen, of VA; Heather Cordell, of Jackson; Michelle (Reggie) Chapa, of TX; Andy (Kristen) Cordell, of Kalamazoo; 11 grandchildren: Mackenzie, Joey, Stephen, Nicholas, Katherine, Morgan, Madelyn, Nathan, Dylan, Emma, and Evan. He is also survived by his mother, Vivian McCowen, of Kalamazoo; Sister-in-law: Rose McCowen, GA; and nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his father, Robert H. McCowen in 2010 and his brother, Tom McCowen in 2019. A visitation will be held on Sunday, February 14, 2021, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm at the Eineder Funeral Home, 137 South Main, Brooklyn, MI 49230 (517) 592-2280. A private graveside service will be held at a later date at the Clark Lake Cemetery. To remain in compliance with the State of Michigan COVID protocol, all attendees are required to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and there will be a limit of 25 people in the facility at one time. Please visit Bob’s webpage at www.mccowensecord.com where you can sign his guestbook and/or share your favorite memory with the family. The family suggests instead of sending flowers, please make memorial contributions to the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation, www.clarklakespirit.com, P.O Box 224 Clark Lake, Michigan 49234.