GIBBON - William H. McGowan, known as "Bill" or "Mac" to his many friends and associates, died on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at the Fairfax Community home in Fairfax. He lived to the age of 104 years and 8 days.
Funeral service will be 11 a.m. Monday, April 30, 2012 at the Augustana Lutheran Church in Gibbon with Pastor Sarah Taylor officiating. Burial will follow in the church cemetery.
Visitation will be at the church one hour prior to the time of service. Minnesota Valley Funeral Home in Gibbon is in charge of the arrangements. To sign the guest book or to leave an online condolence to the family go to www.mvfh.org.
Bill was born on April 17, 1908, in North Redwood, Minn., one of five children of Catherine and Montieth McGowan. He grew up in North Redwood and later in Morton where he graduated from high school, playing basketball for his team which went to the state tournament in 1926.
On May 21, 1931, he married Bernice Becker of North Redwood. Their marriage was blessed with three children, Billy, Bonnie, and Thomas.
Bernice passed away with cancer in January 1980.
Bill was employed in Morton and then in Gibbon by the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad (the M&StL) until 1944, when he was drafted into the Navy. He spent the next year in Camp Farragut in Idaho, near Couer d'Alene, until his discharge in 1945.
In 1942-43, Bill was the coach of the high school basketball, baseball, and football teams. "It was the war years and no one else was available." During his years as coach, his teams won one conference championship in basketball and two in football.
Bill worked in the Gibbon post office for most of his working career, both in the office and many years as a rural mail carrier, driving an 82-mile route six days a week. He was well known to the people of Gibbon's rural community for his dedication to his delivery regardless of the weather. The children on his route were often treated to a piece of candy when they came to meet him at the mailbox.
Over the years, Bill was very active in his community, serving as city clerk, three terms as city council member, and president of the Gibbon School Board for five years. He also was an election judge for nearly 50 years.
Bill's lifetime passion was in amateur baseball. He served as the Gibbon town team manager from 1933 to 1944, a state regional commissioner from 1945 to 1978, state director from 1978 to 1990, vice president from 1983 to 1990. He then served as president of the Minnesota State Amatuer Baseball Association in his final year on the Board at the age of 82.
To honor his service, Bill was elected to the Minnesota Amatuer Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964. He served on the Hall of Fame selection committee for 20 years. In 2005, the baseball field in Gibbon was named "McGowan Field" in his honor. He was named the WCCO Good Neighbor two times.
When asked what was the highlight of his "baseball" life, Bill responded "Going to the 1964 World Series - we went to St. Louis to see the Cardinals beat the Yankees 4 games to three!"
Bill is survived by his children, Bill McGowan and his wife Ruthann, of Oro Valley, AZ; Bonnie Bishman and her husband, Dick, of Washougal, WA; and Thomas McGowan and his wife Dawn, of Winona, MN; Twelve grandchildren, Maureen Pranghofer and her husband Paul, Kathleen Champoux and her husband Dennis, Michael McGowan and his wife Suellen, Coleen Ottaway and her husband Tom, Christine Hubly and her husband Mark, John McGowan and his wife Karen, Ryan Bishman and his wife Kerri, Rachel Bertolino and her husband Mike, Renee Hartnett and her husband Josh, Sean, Matt, and Dan McGowan. Three step-grandsons, Chad Hedin and his wife Tiffany, Rob Hedin and his wife Shannon, and Rich Hedin and his wife Heather. Nineteen great-grandchildren, Krista Hoyme and her husband Greg, Nathan and Katie Thompson, Pamela and her husband Shane Dally, Scott McGowan, Joe and Megan Jirele, Connor and Kinsey Ottaway, Michael, Rachel, and Madeline Hubly, Regan, Andrea, and Jack McGowan, Dain and Austin Johnson, Nathan Bertolino and Rory Bishman. Three step-great-grandchildren, Tatum Engelke, Jaden and Rylan Hedin. Great-great granddaughter, Camry Johnson. Three step great-great-grandchildren, Shane, Brooke, and Sean Dally.