Alumni Profiles    


Robert F. McGowan, '56
Marlowe Sherwood Memorial Service Award, 2009

McGowan originally came to Park in1949. However, his academic career was interrupted by a call to the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He served from 1952-54 as a psychiatric technician and chaplain’s assistant at Brookfield Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Upon his discharge, he returned to Park, graduating in 1956.

During his early years as a student, McGowan developed a close relationship with his alma mater. He shares his memories of filling sandbags during the 1951 Missouri River flood and fighting the fires at Chesnut and Nickel Halls. He also served formally on the Judicial Council, participating in the integration of the school, and as Student Senate president his senior year. McGowan has continued to support Park University through two terms on the Alumni Council, as its president and as a member of the Board of Trustees. McGowan was a member of the search committee that hired President Emeritus Beverley Byers-Pevitts, Ph.D.

Professionally, McGowan spent 35 years in the field of purchasing. He retired as corporate director of purchasing from Tension Envelope Corp., Kansas City, Mo., in 1996. McGowan served on the board of the Kansas City Chapter of the National Association of Purchasing Management for 10 years; chaired its Professional Development Committee for six years, and held the office of president for two years. He was recognized as the NAPM Professional Development Man of the Year in 1978, and he received its Samuels Award (Distinguished Purchasing Manager of the Year) in 1992.

As a resident of Johnson County, Kan., McGowan has been active in the city administration of both Roeland Park and Prairie Village. In Roeland Park, he served on the planning and zoning committee, city council (including a stint as the council’s president) and as its police commissioner. He was a charter member of the Johnson County Human Relations Council, which was formed to deal with racial strife in the 1960s. He helped to
create the Northeast Johnson County Animal Control Unit for six participating cities. He is a Johnson County election poll worker. He serves on the Prairie Village Sister City Committee and was the event co-chair of the International Sister City Conference held in Kansas City in 2008. He also helped initiate new sister city twinning of Prairie Village and Dolyna, Ukraine, entertaining two groups from Dolyna in 2008.

McGowan has a passion for helping special groups. He currently volunteers as a “Catch-A-Ride” driver for the Johnson County Area Agency on Aging, driving elderly and disabled people to appointments. He has volunteered with the Shawnee Mission (Kan.) School District as a second grade classroom assistant, grading papers and tutoring students in math and reading. He has also served as a member of the Greater Kansas City Elderhostel Alumni Steering Committee. Currently, he volunteers as a tour adjunct and special events volunteer at
the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo.

In 1982, McGowan joined the Greater Kansas City Chapter of People to People International. He has served the organization as a board member and first vice president, PTP Student Ambassador Scholarship and loan program administrator and home stay coordinator. He and his spouse, Mary, have sponsored international military students and their families at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., for 13 years.

McGowan has been married to Mary for 52 years. They have two children, Bill and Cathy, and three grandchildren.