Jack W. McGowan, age 87, a lifetime New York Yankees fan, passed away June 19, 2008, at the Madison Valley Manor in Ennis.
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Born in Plentywood, on March 19, 1921, Jack graduated from Plentywood High School and went on to attend Billings Polytechnic Institute, now Rocky Mountain College, on a full-ride athletic scholarship, participating in baseball, football, basketball and track.
During the spring of 1942, Jack left school to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corp. He served in World War II before returning to Billings to earn his bachelor of science degree. Jack was later re-called to active duty during the Korean Conflict and attained the rank of captain by the time of his honorable discharge. He earned his master's of education degree from Western Montana College in Dillon and completed further graduate work at University of Montana in Missoula and Montana State University in Bozeman.
Jack had a long career as an educator and coach, beginning at Belfry High School from 1947 to 1949; continuing on at Westby High School from 1952-1957; and then moving to Ennis, where he taught and coached at Ennis High School for 30 years, from 1957 until retirement in 1987. During his tenure, he was honored for his many achievements and service to education and athletics. He was proud to have been a charter member of the Montana Coaches Association, which later awarded him State Track Coach of the Year three times, as well as Athletic Director of the Year. The National Coaches Association honored him as National Track Coach of the Year in1979. Jack was among the first group inducted into the Montana Coaches Hall of Fame. Rocky Mountain College in Billings inducted him into its Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992, where he was also the recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award. Jack was a member of the Virginia City Elks Lodge, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Madison Meadows Golf Club, and the Island Park Golf Club.
Surviving Jack are his wife of 60 years, Barbara, of Ennis; daughters Debbie (Bob) Olig and grandson Steven of Gardiner, Cheri (Jerry) Lopuch and granddaughters Kayla and Kelli of Great Falls, and Cindy (Kim) Martinson of Townsend and grandson Rune of Seattle and granddaughter Greta of Jackson, Wyo., as well as his "fourth daughter," Holly (Jerry) Clark of Ennis.
Jack was preceded in death by his parents, Joe and Grace McGowan, and his brother, Roger McGowan.
A celebration of Jack's life will be held Wednesday, June 25 at 11 a.m. at the Madison Valley Cemetery in Ennis. A reception will follow at the El Western Convention Center.
Donations are encouraged to the Madison Valley Hospital Building Fund, P.O. Box 397, Ennis, MT 59729.
Condolences may be sent to the family at P.O. Box 85, Ennis, MT 59729.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on June 22, 2008