TULSA, Okla. - James Martin McGowan passed away on Saturday morning, Feb., 25, 2012, with his sons and dear friend Sue Neil by his side, at St. Francis Medical Center in Tulsa, Okla. Known for his wit, intellect, creativity, humor and as a master storyteller, Jim was loved, admired and entertained by those around him. He was fun to be with, steadfast in the truth and dignified in his passing.
He was born in Saranac Lake on March 20, 1929. He loved to hunt and fish in the Adirondacks, where he was raised and visited many times during his life.
He graduated from Clarkson University in 1951 with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering. He was a member of the Phi Delta Epsilon Honor Society, was part of the ROTC program and a member of the fraternal organization Delta Sigma Phi.
After graduation he enlisted in the Navy and served on the USS Lake Champlain aircraft carrier as a lieutenant with classified clearance during the Korean conflict.
After serving in the Navy, his career was in the aerospace industry working with NASA and the Apollo projects. Some of his brightest moments included his involvement with the landing on the moon, the U.S. military - including Lockheed's SR-71 "Blackbird," the advanced, long-range, mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft, and many others - and the commercial airline industry. He held executive positions for companies in New York, England, California and Oklahoma. He traveled the world many times over to such places as China, Australia, Europe, Saudi Arabia, South America - just too many to list as his many passports were stamped full. He saw the world during his Naval and professional career and enjoyed its beauty and its vast culture.
In retirement he returned to his love of running again and became an avid long-distance runner competing in the Boston, Marine Corps in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Dallas (two times), London and Oklahoma City Memorial marathons along with many other 5, 10 and 15k runs. This is quite a remarkable feat considering he was in his 70s and early 80s.
Jim served as a member of the board of directors and advisory council with RSVP. In doing so, it was his belief to give back and volunteer to the many local community organizations in Tulsa.
A special moment in his life was to work with the Special Olympics Oklahoma, where he and his unified partner and Special Olympics athlete Katy Lew won the silver medal in bocce at the 2010 National Games in Nebraska.
Jim is survived by his sister, Mary Daunis of St. Petersburg, Fla.; wife Adele (Finnegan, from Bloomingdale) of Lincoln, Vt.; son Michael and his wife Nancy of San Marino, Calif.; son Timothy and wife Kathleen of Lincoln, Vt.; and grandchildren: Patrick, Robert, Sean, Myles, Katherine and Finnegan; and many nieces and nephews.
Jim will be missed and not forgotten by his many dear friends in the Tulsa area and around the world as he was a true gentlemen and consummate professional with the people he had the pleasure to know or work with.
There will be a celebration of life from 4 to 7 p.m. March 10 at Centennial Park, Central Auditorium, 6th and Peoria, Tulsa, Okla.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Jim's memory and at his request may be directed to the Special Olympics Oklahoma.