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Linn County News

Published Sept. 1, 2021

Ralph Dugan Cowan died Aug. 23, 2021. Ralph was born March 18, 1936, in Kansas City, Kan. He graduated from Wyandotte High School in 1954. That is where he met the love of his life, Deverl Simpson.

Ralph married Dee on March 9, 1957. Their marriage lasted 61 years, ending with Dee’s death in 2018.

 Ralph ran track at Northwest Junior High and Wyandotte. He held Wyandotte’s 100-yard low hurdle record, receiving the A.W. Allen Trophy, and was Kansas City, Kan., City Champion.

He would go on to create the Kansas City region Junior Olympics program.

 Ralph became interested in motor racing when he was young and on weekends drove midgets throughout the Midwest for almost 20 years, while he worked to support his growing family during the week. He held an IMCA record at Olympic Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. 

 Ralph moved the family from Kansas City, Kan., in 1966 to Leawood, Kan., where they lived until moving to the La Cygne area, where they built a house in 1983.

 Ralph was a third generation florist and worked in the family shop. He later owned his own shops as well as an executive floral service. He sold real estate and had many sales jobs throughout his life. He spent many years self-employed as a manufacturer’s rep in the restaurant and hospitality industries. Dee handled the records and accompanied him on business trips. At the time of his death, he led Cowan Associates, manufacturer’s reps, a family business with his two sons.

 When Ralph was 43, he started weight lifting along with his son, and proceeded to live a healthy lifestyle. He ate healthy and worked out three days a week with weights and jogging. For 15 years, including this year when he turned 85, Ralph had posing photos taken on his birthday. Every year he gave family members bound volumes with the pictures and inspirational comments and quotes. For the past 10 years he said each year would be the last, but the next year there would be a new book.

 Ralph is survived by his four children, Cheryl Willis, Overland Park, Laura Kyle, Drexel, Mo., Ronald Cowan, La Cygne, and Michael Cowan, Overland Park; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Arrangements by Schneider Funeral Home. Family only service, burial in Brooklyn Cemetery.


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