March 4, 1930 – May 9, 2019
Alan William McGowan passed away peacefully in Terrace on May 9 at age 89.
A long-time resident of the Northwest, Alan nearly missed out on what turned out to be a long, wonderful and adventurous life. His family lived in a houseboat in Port Alice, B.C., and when he was just a few weeks old, Alan’s bassinet fell off a windowsill where it was perched and into the ocean. His father, Joe, dove into the water fully clothed, emerging seconds later with a startled but otherwise unharmed baby Alan.
Growing up poor during the Depression, Alan moved with his family from Vancouver Island to Vancouver and then to Princeton, attending twelve different schools in as many years. When he was ten his parents separated and he taught himself to raise chickens and hunt for grouse and deer to feed the family. He started working as a farm hand at 14 and by 15 had made enough money to help his family and to buy an old Harley Davidson motorcycle for a solo road trip through California.
After finishing school, Alan worked all over B.C. as a ditch digger, miner, logger and eventually qualified as a journeyman painter. At 24 he decided it was time to settle down. He married and with his bride, Mary, moved to the new city of Kitimat in 1954 to work for Alcan. They raised three children, Joe, Sharon and Skye, and Alan worked for Alcan for 36 years, ultimately becoming a respected project planner of large-scale innovative and ground-breaking engineering projects. When the family moved to Terrace in 1971, Alan founded the Early Riser Commuter Bus Cooperative between Terrace and Alcan and became well known for his daily radio reports on Highway 37 road conditions.
After retirement, Alan pursued his passion for inventing. His greatest success was the Curlstick, a device now used internationally to enable curlers with disabilities to play the sport while standing up. A gifted storyteller, Alan also started writing and in 2015 published his first book of memoirs, Riding in Style, The First Twenty- Five Years. His next book of stories focusing on his time in the Northwest will be published in June 2019. And, Alan continued his hobby of restoring old vehicles, completing work on a 38 Ford truck this year.
Alan skied until he was 80 and rode his beloved motorcycle until he was 87. He leaves behind a rich legacy of stories, inventions, friendships and a loving family.
Alan is survived by his partner Mary Jane Hogg (“the light of my life”) and his son, Joe (Peggy), daughter Sharon (John), and grandchildren, Drew, Paige, Lachlan, Madeleine and Elise. He was predeceased by his wife, Mary, and son, Skye. Alan is also survived by, and was grateful for the friendship and support of Mary Jane’s family, Nancy (Kevin), Michael (Lisa), Penny (Doug), David (Beth) and Jamie (Carmen) as well as her many lovely grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A celebration of Alan’s life will be held on Saturday, May 18 from 1 – 4 at the Skeena Valley Golf and Country Club, 3525 Golf Course Avenue, Terrace, B.C.
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