It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Mr. Robert H. McGowan, (Bob) formerly of Malone at the age of 73. Bob resided in Glen Burnie, Maryland and died unexpectedly on December 8, 2020 at home with his devoted and loving wife Lydia at his side. Bob was one of those rare individuals who was kind, gentle and respected by all who knew him. He was a true favorite son of Northern New York State.
Bob was born in Malone, NY in 1947 to Harold McGowan and Genevieve Haskins McGowan both of whom predeceased him. He attended Franklin Academy and graduated with honors where he was an active member of the band and participated in a number of clubs. He attended Hamilton College from 1967-1971, and graduated with a BA in History (Phi Beta Kappa). At the time of his death he was a member of a committee planning the 50th anniversary of graduating from Hamilton in 2021.
Beginning in 1968, he collaborated with William Langlois on the oral history of Reynoldston, NY a mill town south of Malone in the town of Brandon. In 1970, Langlois and McGowan received a research grant from the State of NY for their work in oral history and spent the next two years documenting the lives of over 50 early pioneers who helped to build Malone and Franklin County at the turn of the 20th Century. Bob had a deep love for and commitment to the residents and history of Northern New York. He published a book and several articles on historical topics related to the area. He had many friends in the Malone area.
After college, Bob worked in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress and then obtained a masters degree in Folklore from Indiana University. Based upon his academic folklore training in 1977, he authored an important book: Architecture from the Adirondack Foothills : a study of traditional building forms in Franklin County.
In 1977-78, Mr. McGowan was the Cultural Historian at Historic Annapolis (Maryland), Inc. From 1978 to 1981, he was an archivist and the Curator of Artistic Property for the State of Maryland. As such, he handled research queries at the Archives and oversaw the restoration and display of paintings in the State collection.
After graduating from University of Maryland Law School in 1984, Bob was employed at the Public Service Commission of Maryland in the field of utility law. He served as a Public Utility Law Judge, until retiring in 2018, after 34 years of service.
In 2009, Messrs. Langlois and McGowan resumed work on the oral history material they had collected in 1968-71, including writing a yet unfinished book on the history of Reynoldston. In 2010 they created a website to share their oral history work: http://www.reynoldstonnewyork.org/ The website and related materials are now housed at Special Collections, Feinberg Library, the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.
He was a member of several organizations including, The Lions Club, Victorian Society, and the Maryland Conservation Commission. Robert loved to read and he also enjoyed writing, traveling, cooking, walking and running. He recently participated in a half marathon at the age of 70.
While working for the utility commission he met his future wife Lydia Stolony in 1984 and they married in 1988. While Bob was an only child, he became an active part of Lydia’s large and caring family that resides in the Baltimore area. He was the beloved “Uncle Bob” to his many nieces and nephews and he will be greatly missed by all his family and friends.
Robert is survived by his loving wife of 32 years, Lydia (nee Stolony); his sisters-in-law, Valentina Skorobatsch (Leo), and Helen Glorioso (Vince); nephews, Leo Skorobatsch(Chrissy), Nick Skorobatsch (Valerie), Vinnie (Alexia), and Mike Glorioso (Jaime); nieces, Christine Westphal (Greg), and Karen Chase (Mike), along with 14 great nieces and nephews.