Lillian Cowan

Obituary of Lillian Mae Cowan

Albany, NY Lillian Mae (Stone) Cowan passed away peacefully in her sleep at the home she shared with her daughter on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 2020 at the age of 100. She was the widow of Henry H. Cowan, daughter of the late Samuel and Jannie (Williamson) Stone; mother of Michael S., Eric C., Diane E., and the late Donald H. Cowan; grandmother of the late Ogenaa R. Cowan and the late Michael A. Cowan. Lillian was born on a farm outside of Blanch, North Carolina where her family had returned to from farming in New York to be close to her great grandfather. After his death and the death of her father, her grandfather, Lewis Abraham Williamson brought his daughter and nine grandchildren back to Columbia County. Here in New York, Lillian enjoyed a wonderful childhood on a farm, going to a one room school house in Omi and riding on Sundays by horse drawn wagon to the Dutch Reformed Church in Ghent. Fortunately, when her grandfather died her oldest sister Mabel had married Clayton Thompson, a truck driver, who helped move the family to Rensselaer where Lillian, now a young teen, began a business making and selling root beer, pies and sandwiches to help support her family. Later when they moved to Albany she sold to the port workers before heading to Hackett Junior High and later to Schuyler High. In summers she added a stoop scrubbing business and along with her brother Jim, who street sold the Knickerbocker News, they were able to keep the family going through the Great Depression. Having excelled in business math in high school, Lillian took a job as a waitress at Oconells restaurant, becoming manager by the age of 19. At 21 she met her beloved Henry at a roller skating rink and after 3 months of courting they married and set up housekeeping on Westerlo Street. From then on Lillian was a homemaker...well, sort of! The war started and Lillian, now pregnant, still got busy helping neighbors manage their ration coupons, start victory gardens and raise chickens. After the war, she had three more children and moved on to the PTA, Church Bookkeeper and the Civil Rights Movement. She became a founding member of the Southern Poverty Law Center and began her “career” as a demonstrator while her husband was at work and her children were in school. Her demonstrating continued well into her 80’s and even after a stroke at 94, her interest in human rights continued from her easy chair. Throughout her life she seemed to have a radar to know who was in need and always found a way to help people without making them feel beholding. Despite being predeceased by all her siblings and closest friends; in addition to her three grandchildren, one great granddaughter, one great grandson and one great great granddaughter; she leaves a host of extended family and friends to mourn her passing; for to all who knew her she was truly Proverbs 31: 10-31 KJV “above the rubies”. The family wishes to thank, Dr. Lev Barats, Kristienna Doro, FNP, Dr. Lawrence Perlmutter, Dr. George Eisele, Vernell Allen and the Community Hospice for all the loving care they gave her. Due to the pandemic there will be no services at this time. Interment in Kinderhook Cemetery.
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