Robert Frank McGowan, 87, of Slippery Rock passed away at his home at 9:28 a.m. Friday following an illness.
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He was born in Slippery Rock on Jan. 28, 1927, to Earl Leonard McGowan and Nora Louella McConnell McGowan.
He married Mary Jane Carrara on June 20, 1948. He played a major role in transforming the community of Slippery Rock as he actively developed residences and businesses within the community.
Bob always had an ever optimistic vision for developing and promoting the Slippery Rock Area. He started McGowan Lumber Company Inc. in 1951 and it grew into a multimillion dollar business. He was interested in all aspects of the lumber business. Bob visited the West Coast Lumber Mills, and in conjunction with them, formulated better ways of handling and shipping lumber. McGowan Lumber Co. branched out into several corporations including Master Mark Homes, Diamond Investments, Rancher Development and RM Industries.
He bought 445 acres and got those annexed into the borough, thus almost doubling the size of the borough. Bob negotiated the leases and built the much needed shopping center, which was later bought by Giant Eagle.
At the same time, land he had zoned commercial or manufacturing was being sold to the following: Kennametal, Guardian Industries, the First National Bank of Slippery Rock, Slippery Rock Hardware, Franklin Hospital, The Beer Barn, Dr. Eisler, Alberta Patterson, Valu King, Burger King and Pizza Hut. He also built, owned and leased a building to Dog and Suds Restaurant, which is now the SRU Credit Union.
Mr. McGowan also owned three offices selling modular homes: Kittanning, Butler and Slippery Rock.
He owned and operated McGowan Real Estate Inc. for 21 years.
During the 57 years of his career, Mr. McGowan provided employment for more than 900 people and set the standards for customer satisfaction.
Bob had many varied interests. He and his wife traveled extensively, many times flying his twin engine Cessna to other countries. He was a professional photographer working in his own photographic studio. He also enjoyed sailing locally and in the northeast. Bob was one of the first to bring Appaloosa horses to this area and won many awards for this showy and gentle breed. He also spent time raising flowers and exotic plants. Bob was an aficionado of music. He particularly enjoyed playing his trumpet with local jazz groups.
Bob was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II. He was a member of the Slippery Rock United Methodist Church.
Surviving family members include his wife, Mary Jane of the residence; one niece, Paula Book Good and her husband, Terry, of Portersville; and two nephews, Mitchell Book and his wife, Brenda, of Winona Lake, Ind., and Martin Book and his wife, Ruth, of Springfield, Ohio. Many grandnieces and grandnephews also survive.
He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother, Willis McGowan.
MCGOWAN - The family of Robert Frank McGowan, who died Friday, May 16, 2014, will receive friends at the Smith Funeral Home, 421 New Castle St., Slippery Rock, on Sunday from 1 p.m. until time of service at 4 p.m. The memorial service will be conducted by the Rev. Boyd Smith of the West Unity Community Church in Harrisville.
Interment will be in Slippery Rock Cemetery.
Smith Funeral Home
421 New Castle St
Slippery Rock, PA 16057-1012
Published in Butler Eagle from May 17 to May 18, 2014