Passed away on March 2, 2019

Dr. James F. Cowan passed away peacefully early Saturday morning, March 2, 2019 in the presence of his wife, Ann, and daughter, Janice Cowan Heverling.

Jim spent thirty-eight years of service in public education. He was the Ventura County Superintendent of Schools from 1969 until his retirement in July 1993.

Jim was born in San Francisco, CA on October 8, 1931 to John and Phyllis Cowan. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ann (Howard) Cowan, his sons John and Jeff Cowan (Shirley), and daughter Janice Heverling (Todd), five grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

His family were members of Ventura Community Presbyterian Church. He and Ann remained lifelong members.

He attended Ventura Jr. High School (Cabrillo). While at Ventura High School, Jim lettered in three sports. His best memories were of the 1949 basketball season while playing for Bob Tuttle on the undefeated C.I.F. championship team. Following high school he attended Ventura Jr. College where he played basketball on two state championship teams and a national runner up team.

Jim met Ann while attending Whittier College. There he played basketball and baseball, the latter coached by former NFL coach George Allen. Following Whittier Jim went into the Army at the end of the Korean Conflict serving as a special investigator in the Counter Intelligence Corps. Stationed in Japan, he toured the Pacific Rim while playing on the Far East Army All Star basketball team. When finished with the Army, he returned to Whittier College to earn a Master’s Degree and married Ann.

After teaching, coaching, and counseling at Ventura High School, Jim became Dean of Boys at Buena High School. Soon following he served as an Assistant Superintendent of Ventura County Schools. From there he was elected as Ventura County Superintendent of Schools. In 1971, Jim earned his Educational Doctorate from USC.

Long before retirement, Jim volunteered in community service. He barbequed for many organizations, coordinated his church’s involvement with “Family to Family” which fed homeless families. He was also involved with the Food Outreach Program through his church. Many people have received some of his clam chowder. Jim loved to ocean fish, particularly going to the Channel Islands with his many fishing buddies. Both he and Ann loved to go on cruises.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be sent to Family to Family (vcfamilyto, Community Presbyterian Church Youth Scholarships (Tami Clabaugh, or any organization of your choice.

The memorial service of Jim’s life will be held at The Ventura Community Presbyterian Church (1555 Poli St.) at 11am on Saturday, April 6, 2019. A “Jim Cowan” style bbq will follow at the church.

The Cowan Family wishes to extend their gratitude to the Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association and the Assisted Hospice Team for their friendship, love, and care.


6 April

James F. Cowan

11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Ventura Community Presbyterian Church

1555 Poli Street
Ventura, CA 93003



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Kimberly Hudson

March 9, 2019

My heartfelt sympathies for the loss of such a wonderful man. It was a joy working with him all those years. He knew everyone by name, and always had time for a chat. He was a wonderful cook, and I'll never forget his clam chowder. Love and prayers to the family.