Robert Edward McGowan
March 28, 1936 – March 2, 2018
Robert Edward McGowan died suddenly on March 2nd, his family was by his side. Born March 28th, 1936 in Philadelphia PA, Bob was a pilot with United Airlines for 30 years, rising from Navigator to First Officer and finishing his distinguished career as a Captain of Boeing 767s. He enjoyed flying long-haul flights to Tokyo, Bangkok, London, and Paris – places he had never visited until he landed the jet! Bob likened the 767 to sports cars for their speed and agility.
Bob worked in high school at a small, grass airfield near Philadelphia. He was taught to fly by the airfield’s owner, a passion that led to his life’s work in aviation. Bob’s first solo flight was at the early age of 15. He worked as an air-traffic controller, served as a missile and explosives specialist in the Army in Hawaii, and had a brief stint as a private investigator before joining United Airlines. Bob married Kathleen (Kathy) Kulp in 1957 and together they raised daughter Karen and son Michael.
The family relocated from New Jersey to Orange County in 1968 when Bob joined United. Bob was active in local government, serving several terms on Villa Park’s City Council including two terms as Mayor. He also joined the local volunteer Fire Department (Station 23) and became Captain and was President of the Orange County Pilot’s Association. He loved his role as Santa Claus in Villa Park’s Christmas parade.
Following Kathy’s death in 1992, Bob married Taywan Rirksopa and together they raised daughter Marisa. After retiring from United, Bob and Taywan eventually moved to Mission Viejo where Bob was busy with his love of science, technology, and gardening. He continued to volunteer, helping organizations such as Save Barham Ranch.
Bob is survived by wife Taywan, daughter Karen (Tore), son Michael (Susan), daughter Marisa (and her fiancé Alex), granddaughters Kelly, Erika and Vivian; his brother Michael (Debbie), sister Nancy, and many nieces and nephews.
A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 PM on May 6th, 2018 at Fairhaven Memorial Services in Mission Viejo. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Bob’s name to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
- Memorial Services Sunday, May 6, 2018
- Reception Sunday, May 6, 2018
Robert Edward McGowan
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