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William Cowan

Obituary of William Richard Cowan

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William Richard (“Dick”) Cowan, Ph.D., P.Eng., passed away peacefully in hospital on December 18, 2020 in his 79th year.  

Dick was the beloved husband of 53 years to Pamela and loving father of Wendy, Patrick (deceased), Danielle (Kyle Shackley), and Paula (David Clarke). He was affectionately known as “Pop” to his cherished grandchildren, Mya, Haley, Nicholas, and Wesley. He is sadly missed by his siblings Gail (Steve), Judie (Alan), and Ian (Jan), as well as by sister-in-law Susan (Brian), his extended family, and his many friends and colleagues.  

Dick was born to parents Ralph and Marjorie in Ottawa. At age 8, his family moved to a farm in Manotick, Ontario. There he learned to love the outdoors, and he continued to hunt and fish throughout his life. He loved sports: he played hockey well into his adult life, he enthusiastically coached hockey and softball for many years, and he was an avid follower of professional sports. 

Dick graduated from Carleton University in 1964 (B.A.), McGill University in 1967 (M.Sc.), and the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1975 (Ph.D.), specializing in quaternary geology and geomorphology. He enjoyed a rewarding career primarily with the Ontario Geological Survey and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, as well as stints with Techman Engineers, the Northern Pipeline Agency, and as a field geologist across northern Canada. He accumulated more than 50 years of experience in environmental assessment, mine rehabilitation, and scientific administration and project management. His work enabled him to travel the globe.  

He continued to work after retirement, establishing a successful consulting business and providing advisory services to the mining sector in mine rehabilitation, mining legislation and abandoned mines. He completed projects on abandoned mines and quaternary geology issues. He also enjoyed many hobbies, including beekeeping, coin collecting, and most of all, spending time with his children and grandchildren. Along with his many professional achievements, his family was always his priority and his most valued accomplishment.    

His siblings describe him as being the grown up in the room through his wisdom, sage advice, and deep moral sense. His warmth, relaxed manner, and keen sense of humour drew people towards him.  He was loved and respected by many and will be deeply missed.  

A celebration of life will be planned for the future. For those interested in honouring Dick’s life, we invite you to post a tribute to his profile at the Arbutus Funeral Services Inc. (Langley BC) website. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Dick’s name to the Parkinson Society British Columbia.  


A Memorial Tree was planted for William
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Arbutus Funeral Service
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William Cowan

In Loving Memory

William Cowan

1942 - 2020

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