Mildred Gloria Cowan passed peacefully from general heart failure on Saturday, Sept. 14, at her home in Peconic Landing, Greenport. She was 90 years old and died in the company of her son, Thomas, and Nana, her health care companion of two and one-half years.
She was predeceased by her husband, Frederick, in May 1996 after 51 years of marriage, and by her only sibling, her brother, Charlie Helfant, in 2004.
Before moving to Greenport in 2006, Mildred had a home in Mattituck for 20 years and had lived previously in three towns in Nassau County — Syosset, Laurel Hollow and Oyster Bay Cove. Additionally, she had resided in Norwalk, Conn., where she grew up, and Astoria, Queens, when she first got married.
During the first 12 years of her marriage, Mildred and Freddy lived a stereotypic post-World War II suburban lifestyle, with the male as breadwinner and woman as housewife and mother. However, things changed in 1957 when she and her husband “gave birth” to their second “child” — a business they soon became enthusiastically proud of, the privately owned company Frederick Cowan & Co., Inc. It became a well-known and highly regarded industrial manufacturing corporation, at its high point having close to 80 employees.
From the proceeds of the company, Mildred and Fred came to lead a varied, resourceful personal and professional life. Besides belonging to a few golf and boating clubs and traveling extensively over the years, at one point in the mid-1980s they owned a business property in Riverhead and, simultaneously, homes in Mattituck and Oyster Bay Cove, an apartment in Manhattan and a year-round “summer home” and dock in Key Largo, Fla.
After her husband’s passing, Mildred continued working in the business and also became involved in a number of East End organizations, including the Episcopalian Church of the Redeemer in Mattituck, the Riverhead Woman’s Club, Mattituck Historical Society, the gem society of the North Fork and the local Red Hat Society. She remained connected to all these activities until her health forced her into retirement in Greenport. Over the last few years her affairs had to be managed. However, she was fortunate. She was able to continue participating in a number of activities, including visiting a number of the East End’s sandy beaches many times during the past summer and sitting on a chair under a large sun umbrella to take it all in with calm and a smile, something that those who knew her were happy for.
The family will receive friends at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Mattituck on Thursday, Sept. 19, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. and Friday, Sept. 20, from 4 to 7 p.m., at which time funeral services will be held. Following cremation, some of her ashes will be privately interred in her husband’s grave at Calverton National Cemetery and the remainder will be set free in the sea.
This is a paid notice.