Hilary Gregory Cowan(1936 - 2013)

Hilary Gregory Cowan


Hilary Cowan, 76, passed away after a sudden illness on March 24, 2013 at Greenville Memorial Hospital, surrounded by her family.

Born in Shorewood, WI on July 16, 1936, she was the daughter of James and Nancy Gregory. She graduated from Shorewood High School and Wellesley College. She also earned a Masters degree from the West Virginia College of Graduate Studies.

Hilary married John Cowan in 1959. Together they enjoyed fifty years of love and laughter until his passing in 2010. Hilary and John had four children and four grandchildren. She considered her grandkids the light of her life, and was always thrilled by their many successes and achievements.

Hilary loved to learn and, not surprisingly, her professional life was dedicated to the education of others. She served as a teacher at Weberwood Elementary and as a Gifted Resource Teacher at Piedmont Elementary in Charleston, WV. When home computers were in their infancy, Hilary saw the potential power of technology in the classroom. With her characteristic purposeful drive, she bought one of the earliest available personal computers, a Radio Shack TRS 80, and taught herself programming with the intention of bringing computers to the classrooms. She became Supervisor of Elementary Computer Curriculum and eventually became Director of Technology for Kanawha County Schools. She had, in her words, the "privilege of assisting teachers and principals in 86 K-12 schools" to integrate computers into their teaching.

She was a reviewer for Electronic Learning magazine, and presented at national computer conferences. For her years of initiative and dedication, she was selected as the Educator of the Year for Kanawha County Schools, awarded the Governor's Distinguished West Virginian Award, and received the National Distinguished Achievement Award from Electronic Learning. She was also honored as a recipient of the U.S. President's Citation Program for Private Sector Initiatives Award for Project TEACH, a program which partnered with the business community in Kanawha County in order to allow teachers the time to receive computer training.

Hilary retired in 2002 and moved with her husband to Greenville. She was delighted to have more time for artistic pursuits such as stained glass, drawing and painting. She also enjoyed taking courses at Furman University.

One of the high points of her life was participating in the 1963 March on Washington, where she heard Martin Luther King give his "I Have a Dream" speech. She also loved volunteering with Keep a Child in School in West Virginia, as well as for Greenville Literacy in South Carolina.

Hilary was preceded in death by her husband, John, and daughter-in-law, Connie Cowan. She is survived by daughters, Megan Cowan and Jennifer Waters (husband Paul) of Greenville; sons, Patrick Cowan (fiancée Justine Thompson) of Orlando, FL and Daniel Cowan of Elkview, WV; sister Nancy Karmazin (husband Ted) of Grosse Ile, MI; brothers, Thomas Gregory (wife Sue) of Elkhorn, NE and Michael Gregory of Madison, WI; and grandchildren, Kathleen and Cara Cowan and Emma and Ian Waters.

The family will hold a memorial service for Hilary this summer. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Tutwiler Clinic, P.O. Box 462, Tutwiler, MS 38963-0462. Condolences for family members may be sent to P.O. Box 5502, Greenville, SC 29606.

Funeral Home

Cremation Society Of South Carolina
328 Dupont Drive Greenville, SC 29607
(864) 233-7334

Published in The Greenville News on Mar. 31, 2013