Ruth Anita Cowan 71, resident of Denton for 40 years, died at her home of multiple myeloma on March 11, 2012. She was born in Holdenville, Hughes County, Ok on April 3, 1940 to Emory Clay Cowan and Mary Robinson Cowan. The family moved to Lubbock, TX. where she grew up and graduated from Monterey High School in 1958. She earned a B.A. / B.S. at Texas Woman’s University in Denton in 1962; an MSSW at Columbia University in New York and M.A. and PhD at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.
In her early career, she worked as a social worker at the Jewish Children and Family Services of New York. Upon returning to Texas, she directed The Girl’s Foundation of Hope Cottage of Dallas. In 1970, she joined the faculty of the Department of Sociology and Social Work at Texas Woman’s University and remained there as faculty member for 32 years, serving as the Director of the Social Work Program from 1984-1995. Her professional contributions included years of service on the national Board of Directors of the Baccalaureate Program Directors Association, site visitor for the national Council of Social Work Education. She was honored by the Denton unit of the National Association of Social Workers as Social Worker of the Year and Life Time Achievement Award. In 2008, Texas Woman’s University honored Anita by recognizing her as a Distinguished Alumni. Over the years, she was a member in various committees and boards which served the Denton community and was a member of the First United Methodist Church. Her childhood experiences in the church, her family’s concern for others, and the social currents as she grew up, informed her lifetime interest in education, social justice and equality. An enthusiastic traveler and voracious reader, she embraced every opportunity to know other cultures and customs. While a visitor to more than two dozen countries as far flung as India, Malaysia, and the Galapagos Islands, the place she loved most was Zilhuatanejo, Mexico. She often said she found paradise before the rest of the word discovered it. For more than forty years, she traveled regularly in western Mexico, participating in exchange programs, offering summer courses for TWU, and conducting anthropological field research.
Eventually she established a second home in Zihuatanejo. Anita enjoyed fluency in Spanish and over the years, she was an enthusiastic guide to the many students, friends, and family members who went to Mexico with her.
Anita will be remembered for her kindness to others, her sense of humor, and her story-telling ability. She could laugh at herself, loved the simple pleasures of life, and remembered details that most had long forgotten. Those close to her knew her to be the care-taker in her family, the keeper of family history, the “glue” that kept her former TWU classmates in the Class of 1962 in touch, and one who was courageous and brave when facing her final illness. During this difficult journey, she showed strength, grace, and humor.
She is predeceased by her parents and her brother, David Wallace Cowan. Survivors are her dearest friend in life Ricardo Martinez, niece, Laura Elizabeth Cowan of Cincinnati, OH and ten first cousins.
The funeral service will be 10:00 am Thursday March 15, 2012 at the First United Methodist Church Cole Chapel in Denton. At her request she will be laid to rest wrapped in a quilt made by her grandmother.Rev. Lisa Marshall will conduct the service. The burial will follow at 3:00 pm at her family’s resting place at the Wetumka Cemetery in Wetumka, Hughes County, OK. Visitation will be 6:30 to 8:30 pm Wednesday March 14, 2012 at Mulkey-Mason Funeral Home in Denton. Memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church, Denton, Texas.
On line condolences may be made at www.mulkeymasondenton.com