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Martin McGowan, 88

Aug 24, 2009

Martin J. McGowan, Jr., long time Minnesota newspaper publisher and former legislator, age 88, of St. Paul, passed away on August 13, at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis after a short illness.

McGowan was born Oct 28, 1920, at Appleton, the son of Martin J. and Olga (Vieg) McGowan. He graduated from Appleton High School in 1938, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1942.

Following college graduation, he joined his father on the staff of the Appleton Press, and later upon his father’s retirement, became editor and publisher of the Press until the paper was sold in 1965, at which time the Press had been owned and operated by the McGowan family for over 51 years.

During McGowan’s and his father’s tenure, the Appleton Press won many awards for editorial writing, personal columns written by both, typography and layout – one year the paper was judged the best newspaper under 2,500 circulation in Minnesota in the category of General Excellence.

McGowan was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1958 and represented Swift County in the legislature until 1967, serving as secretary of the Liberal (DFL) caucus for his last four years.

After the sale of the Appleton Press, McGowan moved his family to St. Paul where he joined KTCA-TV as a coordinator of special projects which involved lobbying at the State Capitol and in Washington, D.C., grant writing, and on-air moderating of a senior citizen’s program entitled “Seminars for Seniors.”

McGowan later owned and published newspapers in Blue Earth, Winnebago, and Elmore, and New Richmond, Wisc., served as the public relations director at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, and as an account representative for Volkmuth Printers in St. Cloud.

McGowan served on the board of the Minnesota Newspaper Association, the Minnesota Press Club and Sigma Delta Chi, the journalistic society.

He was secretary of the DFL party in Swift County for 19 years and secretary of the party in the Seventh Congressional District for two years.

He served on the public library board in Appleton and the Planning Commission in Blue Earth. He was active in Kiwanis in four communities, and served as trustee of three Catholic parishes. He was a member of the Third and Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus.

McGowan was married to the former Elizabeth J. Nolan of Brainerd on July 3, 1943, and at the time of his death they had enjoyed over 66 years of married life together. In retirement the McGowans spent a major portion of their years at a home on Pelican Lake north of Brainerd where McGowan continued to indulge his passion for news writing by covering the Crow Wing County Board meetings for the Lake Region Echo in Pequot Lakes. In 2001 the McGowans moved to the Lyngblomsten Senior complex in St. Paul where McGowan lived at the time of his death.

Survivors include his wife Elizabeth (Betty), of St. Paul; eight of their nine children including Martin III (Mick), of Cranford, N.J.; Dan, of St. Paul; daughter Margaret, of Honolulu, Hawaii; Vince, of Las Vegas, Nev.; Kevin, of Eden Prairie; Brendan, of St. Paul; daughter Maureen Sinkler, of Chanhassen; and Michael, of Eagan; 17 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and a sister, Eleanor Simcoe of Westborough, Mass.

He was preceded in death by his parents, a sister, Jane, in infancy and a son, Sean, of Las Vegas, Nev., in 2007.

Funeral services were held on Aug.19, at Holy Childhood Catholic Church, St. Paul. Burial was in the McGowan family plot at the Appleton City Cemetery.