Eugene Guyland Cowart

By  | July 27, 2022 | Filed under: Laughlin Service Funeral Home, Obituaries

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“Broke out on top and climbing”

On 22 July 2022, 98-year-old Eugene Guyland Cowart departed this world on a one-way flight home. Born in 1923 to Eugene and Fay Smith Cowart in De Quincey, Louisiana, he was raised in Pensacola, Florida and as an adult resided at various times in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Baytown, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Fort Walton Beach, Florida; and—his last home—Huntsville, Alabama. He was preceded in death by Margaret Matthews Cowart (1925-2011), his beloved wife of 65 years.

Gene was an eighteen-year-old freshman at Auburn when World War II broke out. He immediately enlisted and was sent overseas as a B26 pilot, flying some 45 missions out of England, France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany with the 9th Air Force, 322nd Bomb Group, 450th Bomb Squadron, which received a Distinguished Unit Citation. Gene’s personal decorations included the Air Medal with one Silver and 3 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters; his European theater ribbon bore five battle stars, denoting participation in campaigns in Northern France, the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge), Rhineland, Central Europe, and Southern France. He would later describe his war experience in a memoir, “Green Bars: An American Bomber Pilot’s Personal Story, 1942-1945”.

After the war, he completed his education as a mechanical engineer at the University of Alabama, where his scholastic honors included election to Tau Beta Pi and Pi Tau Sigma Honorary Engineering Societies. Upon graduation in 1948, he began a career spanning over 50 years in oil, paper, chemicals, and aerospace. Early on he became a Professional Engineer, licensed in the State of Washington. He retired in 1990 as Chief Engineer of the Huntsville Division of Boeing, to which he had devoted some 30 years, capped by his leadership in building NASA’s Lunar Roving Vehicle, which accompanied the final Apollo missions in 1971 and 1972. For that effort, he received the Silver Snoopy, aerospace’s most prestigious recognition, awarded by the astronauts themselves. In 1999 he was honored by the University of Alabama as a Distinguished Engineering Fellow.

Throughout his life, but especially in retirement, Gene enjoyed fishing, reading, travel, and woodworking.

He is survived by his son, David (Pamela) of Black Mountain, North Carolina; daughter, Jan Potter (Chris) of Roswell, Georgia; and six grandchildren: Keyton Weissinger (Melinda), Caitlyn Nichols (David), Jessica Pierce (Jeff), Gene Potter (Alexis), and Rachel and Charles Cowart. Also dear to him were his eleven great- grandchildren: Mara and Hannah Weissinger, Al and Zachary Nichols, Benjamin Potter, and Arrevia, Virginia, Kellen, Madelyn, Sydney, and Stella Pierce.

A brief graveside service will be held at Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville, on Wednesday, 27 July, at 9:00 AM.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donating to a favorite charity–or simply doing an act of kindness in remembrance of Eugene Guyland Cowart.

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