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Charles Gowen


Charles Gowen Obituary

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ATLANTA: Charles Gowen, 99, influential lawyer


Charles Gowen was named a senior law partner at King & Spalding after serving 20 years in the Georgia Legislature.

He was the first politician invited to join King & Spalding, according to the firm's history. He replaced Griffin Bell in 1962 when Mr. Bell was appointed judge of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The firm immediately pressed Mr. Gowen's legislative experience into service. It wanted to change names from the cumbersome Spalding, Sibley, Troutman, Meadow & Smith to King & Spalding, last used in 1920. There was no King in the firm, and there was a state law against using a name that didn't belong to a partner. Mr. Gowen used his influence with the Legislature to make the firm's name legal.

The graveside service for Mr. Gowen, 99, who died at his Atlanta residence Monday, is 2 p.m. Saturday at Christ Church, Frederica on St. Simons Island. Edo Miller & Sons Funeral Home in Brunswick is in charge of arrangements.

A Brunswick attorney for 36 years, Mr. Gowen served in the Legislature from 1939 through 1961, except for a two-year period when he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1954.

"He was a good campaigner," said Mr. Bell. "He was an excellent orator."

Mr. Bell said he enjoyed dining out and traveling with Mr. Gowen. "He loved a good dinner party and the conversation around it. He was about as good a companion as you'd want."

Mr. Gowen's gubernatorial campaign was covered by journalist Jack Spalding III, son of Hughes Spalding of the law firm. The two families became acquainted, and Jack Spalding, who later became The Atlanta Journal's editor, married Mr. Gowen's daughter, Anne, in 1956.

Survivors include another daughter, Mary Evelyn Wood of St. Simons Island; a sister, Gladys Fendig of St. Simons Island; a stepsister, Jean Smith of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; three stepbrothers, Erroll Gowen of Pompano Beach, Fla., Richard Gowen of Jacksonville and James Gowen of Cane Hill, Ark.; 8 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.

RELATED: Family-placed obituary for Charles Latimer Gowen
PHOTO CREDIT: State legislator Charles Latimer Gowen (middle right, holding sandwich) was a member of the anti-Talmadge contingent during Georgia's 'Three Governors' controversy of 1946-47. When governor-elect Eugene Talmadge died in 1946, the state constitution didn't specify who would assume the governorship and three men -- Talmadge's son, Herman, Lieutenant Governor-elect Melvin E. Thompson and outgoing governor Ellis Arnall -- all laid claim to the office. ( file photo)

© 2003 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Apr. 1, 2003
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