obituary header
Welcome to the memorial page for

Ronald Lee Cowden

September 30, 1934 ~ October 9, 2017 (age 83)
Obituary Image

A memorial service for Ron Cowden, 83, of North Bend will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 4 at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 4th and Highland Streets in Coos Bay with pastor Christy Close Erskine, presiding.

Ronald was born Sept. 30, 1934 in Fresno, Calif. to Roy and Ina Cowden.  He passed away Oct. 9, 2017 in Coos Bay.

Ronald grew up in Big Creek, Calif., an area he called “God’s Country”, where Southern California Edison Company has hydroelectric dams in the Sierra Mountains.  Fishing, hunting and camping skills were honed here that became lifetime hobbies.  During WWII, he helped his mother man observation tents identifying planes that might be targeting the dams.  His family moved to Boulder City, Nev. when his father worked at Hoover Dam.  There, Ron had a lucrative lawn mowing business and enjoyed working during the summer for a man who parked his ice cream truck at the edge of town to sell cooling treats to tourists coming from the hot desert.  After moving back to Big Creek, Ron graduated from Sierra High School where he had many summer adventures fighting fires for the Forest Service.  After graduation, Ron enrolled in Fresno State College, later deciding to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. instead, avoiding the Korean War draft.  In 1957, Sergeant Cowden was honorably released from active duty.

Taking advantage of the GI bill, Ron enrolled in Oregon State College where he met his wife, Liz Barbee.  They were married in 1959 and daughter, Lisa was born in 1961.  Ron worked as a police officer in Corvallis until the family moved to Cottage Grove. In Cottage Grove, Ron was employed by Weyerhaeuser in their laminating plant.  He became very active in JC’s and a lay reader in the Episcopal Church.

Allergies in the valley bothered Ron. Doctors suggested he move to the coast for cleaner air so he began work for City Finance Company in Reedsport in 1970.  In 1973 he transferred to North Bend where he managed several finance companies in the area during his working career.  Community service was important to Ron, beginning with the North Bend Lyons.  He also served on the board of directors of THE House, and Consumer Credit Counseling Service.  Ron was one of the founding members of the Ecumenical Emergency Food Cupboard, now known as Coos Food Cupboard.

In 1986, Ron completed a multi-year program of Theological Education through the University of the South.  He was a long time member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, where he will be interred in the All Saints’ Columbarium. When asked how he would like to be remembered, he would say “that he loved the Lord”.

After retirement, Ron and Liz enjoyed ten happy years traveling in their fifth wheel to Alaska, and points South for four months each year as “rain birds”.  When health issues prevented continuing RV travel, Ron focused his time on his love of reading, watching Trail Blazer games, and spent hours with computer technology.

Ron is survived by his wife of 58 years, Liz Cowden; daughter, Lisa Cowden; niece; Nancy Gehrke; nephews, Randy Gehrke, David Gehrke, Jeffrey Gehrke, Stephen Cowden and Brian Cowden.

Ron was preceded in death by his parents, Roy and Ina Cowden; sister, Dorene Gehrke Cuppernal and brother, David Cowden.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Coos Food Cupboard, P.O. Box 1028, Coos Bay, Ore. 97420 or Emmanuel Episcopal Church Youth Fund, PO Box 1028, Coos Bay, Ore. 97420.

Arrangements are under the care of Coos Bay Chapel, 541-267-3131.

Friends and family are encouraged to sign the online guestbook at

 Service Information

Memorial Service
November 4, 2017

11:00 AM
Emmanuel Episcopal Church
400 Highland Avenue
Coos Bay, Oregon 97420

© 2018 Coos Bay Chapel. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS