Arlee Claud Gowen, 91, of Lubbock, passed away surrounded by his loving daughter and son-in-law and a host of female admirers in San Antonio on Sunday, October 19, 2014. He was a ladies' man, raconteur of sea stories, dry hole investor, historian, dirt farmer and ballroom dancer that was born in Lamesa to Claud Franklin and Ora Ethel (Cox) Gowen on November 24, 1922.
He attended McCarty community school and Lamesa public schools, graduating from Lamesa High School in May 1939. For two years prior to graduation he was employed by the Lamesa Reporter weekly newspaper at 10¢ an hour on which he worked as a "printer's devil". He also earned money by chopping cotton in the summertime for 20¢ an acre.
In September 1939 he enrolled in Texas Technological College at Lubbock. During his undergraduate days he was employed as a printer at Wood Printing Company and Texas Tech Press. Later he was a sportswriter at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. He graduated in June 1943 with a BA Degree in Journalism after serving in the US Navy.
He volunteered into US Naval Aviation as an aviation cadet and prior to reporting for active duty, was employed on the flight line by Breedlove Aerial Service, flight training contractor for the US Army Air Corps. His job was cranking planes on the flight line and was assigned to the USS Randolph (CV-15) as its construction was being completed. In December 1945 Lt.[jg] Gowen received a transfer to Naval Air Transport Service.
On February 1946 he was married to May Belle "Bonnie" Bonner in Crane, Texas. The couple lived at Pantex, Texas near Amarillo Army Air Base where he was stationed. After separation from naval service June 6, 1946 at Galveston, Texas they moved immediately to Lubbock where they had met in college. Arlee assisted in the organizing and founding of Southwestern Crop and Stock, a farm magazine, and was named editor of the publication which printed its first edition in January 1947.
In the early 1950s he assisted in organizing High Plains Credit Corporation and was named executive vice-president of the organization while continuing in the publishing business. In 1959 he established a wholesale electronic supply which became known as Electros, Inc. In 1961 he purchased a farm in Bailey County that he continued to operate until his passing.
In September 1986 he entered a manuscript, The Widder Dyches in the Texas Sesquicentennial competition. It was adjudged first place winner and was displayed in the Hall of State at the State Fair of Texas alongside the original Texas Declaration of Independence. In March 1987 he was named to the board of directors of the South Plains Genealogical Society and in the same year was appointed to the board of directors of the Texas State Genealogical Society. In 1987 The Widder Dyches received first place in Texas State Genealogical Society competition. In 1988 an account of his fifth-generation grandfather, Matthew Morgan McCall, M.D., Alikchi Chukma of the Choctow again took the TSGS award.
Those left to cherish his memory are his wife, Bonnie Gowen of Lubbock; two daughters, Bonnie Lee Hill and husband Mike Hill of Dallas and Connie Louise Hiers, M.D., FACS and husband William “Bill” R. Fritz of San Antonio. He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother, Got Gowen.
Visitation will be 9:00-10:30 a.m. Saturday, October 25, 2014 at Combest Family Funeral Homes with a graveside service beginning at 11:00 a.m. at the City of Lubbock Cemetery.
Memorial donations can be sent to Brandywine Crucible, Inc., 254 Old Spring Lane, Houston, Texas 77015.
Please celebrate the life of Arlee by visiting www.combestfamilyfuneralhomes.com.