American Veteran 04

Michael Lee McGowan

February 9, 1928 ~ June 17, 2022 (age 94)

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Missoula - Till the end of his days, Michael Lee McGowan played and followed the stock market with a fervor, always on top of his Vanguard. Like the market, with its ups and downs, Mike was resilient with what life had to throw at him, always bouncing back and taking everything in stride. Mike died on a Saturday. It was June 18, 2022. He was 94. He was born February 9, 1928, in Seattle, Washington to Lee and Gertrude McGowan. He was an Irish-Catholic lad. A sister Joan would join the family two years later. They would move to Billings, Montana when Mike was 12. It was in Billings that he would cultivate his life-long passion for all things athletic. Mike would play softball, volleyball and basketball, and star and letter on the football team for the Billings Senior High Broncs. He would graduate as one of the Class of 46’. Mike played the Center position but with a very self-deprecating humor, he would always tell people he played three positions; he liked to say, “he played Guard, Tackle and End. He sat on the End of the bench, would Guard the water bucket and Tackle anyone who came near it!” Mike would go on to earn his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from the University of Montana. (Called MSU at the time) Mike was charismatic, liked, and admired by all who met him. In 1952, while still at the U, he was recruited for, and was part of, a national advertising campaign for Chesterfield cigarettes. “Easiest Test in the Book,” “OPEN ‘EM, SMELL ‘EM, SMOKE ‘EM.” (All taken in the context of the times) In later years, he would return to U of M as a member of the Century Club. While at the University, he worked as a bellman at the Florence Hotel where he would meet and marry his wife Kathryn Kelly in 1954. They would follow Mike’s education and career to Berkley, and San Diego, California and then across the Pacific to Japan and back to Great Falls, Montana where they would adopt their only child Ricky in 1962. After receiving his master’s degree, Mike would serve with the U.S. Army as a Counter Intelligence Corps agent. He then joined the staff of the Red Cross and spent several years helping chapters set up safety programs on a local level. He spent two years at the Far Eastern Headquarters of the American Red Cross in Tokyo. Mike would rise through the ranks to Director of Safety programs at the Midwestern Area Office in St. Louis, Missouri. After retirement, he would start anew again from the place of his birth in Seattle and travel the globe as a disaster coordinator with FEMA – Federal Emergency Management Agency. In later years, he and Kathy would return to family and the easy living of Missoula. Uncle Mike was always there for his niece and nephews. Rafting the Clark Fork River from below the old Milltown Dam, skiing at Marshal ski area and playing racquetball left-handed (to give us a chance). He traveled to Hong Kong with nephew John. He was fun at the race track too. He even owned his own race horses for a time, Kid Super and Risk Proof! Mike was preceded in death by his son Ricky and his sister Joan. He is survived by his loving wife Kathy of 68 years, sister-in-law Carol Kelly, nephew Jim Kelly (Corrine), nephew John Kelly, niece Kasey Kelly McNulty (Mike), great niece Sydney McNulty, great nephew Chance McNulty, and from the other side of the family, a favorite niece Hilary Canty (Hank), and several other nieces and nephews. Cremation has taken place. No services are planned. Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at

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