Alan Cowan is remembered for his service to the Manning community, through local government, as a former deputy mayor, both Apex and Rotary service clubs, the National Party and many other organisations and causes.
He is remembered as a gentleman. And he is remembered for his integrity and generosity.
The Manning community will have the opportunity to remember Alan and celebrate his life at a memorial service at the Manning Uniting Church in Taree on Friday, March 5 at 11.30am. Because of COVID restrictions the church has requested attendees call the office on 6552 3850 and provide their name and phone number. There will also be QR scan facility at the church.
Alan Cowan died in Sydney on January 21, 2021, aged 91 years. His funeral service was held at the Scots Kirk Presbyterian Church at Mosman, Sydney, where he and his wife Judy were parishioners. He was born in Taree on October 18, 1929 and he and Judy were married in 1956. They have five children, Graeme, Sue, Lyn, Hugh and Geoff, and nine grandchildren.
The following is a compilation of tributes from his family, his Rotary club and from an advocate for the Aboriginal community of the Manning.
A life well lived
The following eulogy was read by Alan's son Graeme at his funeral service.
Dad would have to be one of the friendliest people you could ever meet - it was his mission to find something in common with you - at restaurants he would ask Asian waiters where they were from. "Do you know Taree, Old Bar, Oxley Island, Scotts Creek?"
Dad was born on October 18, 1929 and he liked to joke that his birth caused the Wall Street crash which happened four days later. Growing up in the aftermath of the Depression and World War II shaped him.
His parents, Hiram and Marjorie, were the biggest influences in his life, he said. He also had a sister Marg and Alan made supporting her a priority his whole life.
Dad came to Sydney Grammar, then trained as an accountant with Hungerford Spooner. Ron Butterworth (Hiram's partner) died in 1953 and without hesitating he went straight home to support his dad.
He then started his own accountancy firm in 1954 and built it up to be a very successful organisation. He retired in 1989 - 45 years after starting.
All five of the children gradually moved down to Sydney for university, etc.
Alan and Judy built a new home at Forster and moved out to live at the beautiful One Mile Beach.
Dad was incredibly generous - and everyone agreed this was his greatest virtue. He was generous with his time. He was generous with his advice. He was generous in his friendship and his support. He was also generous with his money. Even though he grew up in the aftermath of the Great Depression, he truly had an abundance mindset.
He was also very generous to the community and volunteered for the common good. Some of those contributions included being treasurer for the NSW National Party for many years. He was an alderman and deputy mayor of Taree Municipal Council for many years. He was a long time member of Taree's Chamber of Commerce, and president and a life member of both Apex and Rotary.
He was an advocate for the indigenous community for more than 50 years ago.
Loving and caring slide
Just over 70 years ago Alan met Judy on Forster Beach. He often talked about that meeting as the luckiest moment in his life. His five children grew up in a very loving home and never wanted for anything.
He was also a devoted uncle to our cousins in the Odgers and Begg family.
Dad had many great friends including Ted Saxby, Max Carey, Barry Cooling, John Connellan and Ian Bartier. Tragically all have passed away except Max Carey.
Dad was a very progressive thinker and back in 1973 he took the family on a package holiday called Swingaway - they went to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. No one had ever done anything like that before.
Honesty and integrity
Dad was the most honest person I've ever known - a number of you referred to him as a true gentleman and praised his integrity. He always did the right thing - no matter how hard or difficult it was.
As mentioned previously he started his accountancy practice in 1954.
One of his first employees was Roger Lynch in the early 1960s. Roger had been in a car accident and lost the use of his legs. Way before discrimination law came into practise Dad gave Roger a chance. When we attended the 60th anniversary of Dad's firm, Roger spoke about how important that job was to his good life.
Dad was very progressive from a business perspective and started using computers in their very earliest form. His staff had to enter details on punch cards - it was then flown to Sydney to go through the computer - and then in the following week it was flown back.
Dad was also very adept on social media and often followed his grandkids without making comment. They only knew this when he made a cheeky comments about one of their photos.
If you reflect on his life you will also see Dad was very astute. His investment in shares meant that Mum and he never were on the pension - and he was very proud of that.
All five kids got great advice when it was needed - and also the nine grandkids.
Dad had a great sense of humour and always had a twinkle in his eye. He was quick to laugh and practised 'self-deprecating' humour.
Dad - Pa - Alan - you certainly chose a life that matters.
From the Rotary Club of Taree, prepared by long-time friend Max Carey:
Alan opened an accountancy practice in Taree around 1960.
He was a member of Apex until he joined the Rotary Club of Taree in 1976.
He had been active in the Taree Chamber of Commerce, the Presbyterian Church, Taree Golf Club as well as other organisations such as the school P and C.
He was an alderman of Taree Municipal Council for at least three terms and served a term as deputy mayor.
His father, Hiram Cowan, a solicitor in Taree, was also a Rotarian.
Judy and Alan lived in River Street, Taree until they moved to Forster on retirement.
Alan joined Rotary Club of Taree in 1976 and remained an active member until he moved to Forster to live, when he was made an honorary member.
He was always an active member of Rotary and his children, Graeme, Sue and Lyn, were exchange students to America, Africa and Japan.
Alan was president in 1987/88 year, the 50th anniversary of Rotary Club of Taree. The shelter shed at Rotary Park was dedicated to commemorate this event by Rotary International director/treasurer Brian Knowles. Rotarian Tom Dyball published a history of the first 50 years of Rotary and a time capsule was also prepared to celebrate the event, to be opened in 2038.
During the year the club moved dinner meetings from Taree West Bowling Club to Manuel's Restaurant in Manuel's Arcade. The club commenced the year with 70 members and completed year with 75 members, making it the second largest club in the district.
A Brushman of the Bush Art Exhibition was held during Alan's term as president, resulting in the sale of $65,000 worth of paintings and raising $15,370 for Polio Plus, Rotary's campaign to eradicate polio in the world.
Other highlights of Alan's term included a team travelling to the Solomon Islands to construct a school, exchange students travelling to and from Germany, Norway, Japan and the Philippines, and the club participating in the National Science Summer School, as well as many other activities.
Alan was an active golfer and joined many of his friends for a social game on Wednesday afternoon.
He was a member of the 'discussion group' who met regularly at Sailo's Friday afternoon after work.
Friend and fellow Rotarian Max Carey prepared the above eulogy.
Max and his wife Joyce have been friends with Cowan Family since moving to Taree in 1976 and their children grew up together. Max first met Alan when they attended Taree High School in 1942.
"I am honoured to write this eulogy to Alan and apologies for omissions," Max concluded.
From Alec Mills, an Aboriginal community advocate from Taree
I am hoping that in your Dad's eulogy that you will be able to mention something of his Christian commitment and his special contribution to Aboriginal people.
As I am thinking of you all, I am centring on your Dad's commitment to helping Aboriginal people in Taree, and particularly Ella Simon, at a time when so many neglected Ella and her people.
It was the late 1960s and it certainly was not a fashionable thing to do, yet your Dad showed great commitment and made such a significant and positive impact.
He worked tirelessly and selflessly to establish the Gillawarra Gift Shop at Purfleet near Taree - with Ella Simon in charge.
It was the first real tourist-generated income the Aboriginal community were able to receive and also an opportunity for their artistic works to be recognised.
Alan also provided such incredible support to Ella to get her first book, "Through My Eyes" published. It was such a huge achievement.
He also played a significant role in the creation of an Aboriginal Child Care Centre which was an immense help to many families.
This created such wonderful relationships with the families at Purfleet.
Alan gave generously to a community that needed it.