Dr. Eugene McGowan, Jr., Ph.D., ABPP
February 15, 1917 – July 31, 2017
Dr. Eugene McGowan Jr., age 100, of Wilmington, DE, departed this life on Monday, July 31, 2017.
He was the son of the late Eugene and Annie (Peek) McGowan and was born on February 15, 1917 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was educated in the public schools of Atlanta and later received his BA degree at Morehouse College, Atlanta and MA and PhD degrees in Psychology at New York University. He was also a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
He taught at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta for five years before serving in the U.S. Navy as a Specialist First Class during World War II. Following his honorable discharge in 1946, he returned to his graduate studies in Clinical Psychology at New York University. In 1948, he was appointed associate professor of Psychology at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 1951, Dr. McGowan began serving as psychologist in the public schools of Wilmington and New Castle County and as consultant to other institutions and agencies in Delaware including, Woodshaven Kruse School, Head Start and Community Action. He took a special interest in young people showing evidence of high ability and chaired a district-wide committee to develop a program for the development of gifted and talented students.
Dr. McGowan was a diplomate of the American Board of Professional Psychology and a fellow of the American Academy of School Psychology. He was a past-president of the Delaware Psychological Association and a member of the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. He was a long time member of the Mental Health Association in Delaware and was a past-president of its Wilmington chapter. He served two terms on the board of the National Association of the Mental Health and was also a member of the board of Delaware Guidance Services for Children and Youth. Dr. McGowan served on the board of the YMCA of Delaware after a long affiliation with its Walnut Street branch as board member and as a founding member of its Unity Club.
He was deeply involved in the civil rights movement in Delaware from its earliest beginning, and remained an influential presence throughout the struggle. He was a board member of The Wilmington Branch and the State Conference of Branches of the NAACP. Later as vice-chairman of the Delaware Committee for Fair Practices, he was frequently involved with others in the intense lobbying, picketing, and other protest activities preceding the final passage of the Public Accommodations and Fair Housing Laws. Still later, as president of the newly organized Delaware Leadership Council he was involved in most of its Voter Education and Voter Registration Campaigns. These non-partisan campaigns organized down to the neighborhood level were highly successful. They brought about very sharp increases in the number of eligible minority voters and this greatly enhanced the influence of African Americans in both major political parties.
Dr. McGowan’s other activities have included service on the boards of the State Department of Corrections, The Delaware Agency to Reduce Crime, Delaware Guidance Services for Children and the Youth Community Action of Greater Wilmington, the Greater Wilmington Development Council, the YMCA of Delaware and its Walnut Street branch, and the Governors Committee for a State Correctional Program. He was a founding member of The State Human Relations Commission.
After retirement, he continued his involvement in community related affairs. As an active and enthusiastic participant in the programs and activities of the Adult Education Committee of the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew and as an active participant in the programs and projects of Pacem in Terris he has continued to serve the community. He enjoyed and looked forward to the time he spent with his fellow participants at the University of Delaware’s Academy of Life Long Learning.
Throughout his life, he received a number of awards and other citations in recognition of his achievements and services by organizations including the United Health Association, the Delaware Committee for Fair Practices, the YMCA of Delaware and the African American Historical Society of Delaware.
In February 2003, Dr. McGowan was recognized by the Afro-American Historical Society of Delaware as one of the “One Hundred African American Men of Distinction in Delaware” where his portrait and biographical summation are exhibited along with the other distinguished men. He was recognized, selected, and named because of his exemplary professional career and outstanding community service.
His achievements in Delaware include: being the first African-American psychologist in Delaware; past president of the Delaware Psychological Association; served two terms on the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists; served two terms as the Delaware delegate on the board of the National Association for Mental Health; board member of the Mental Health Association in Delaware and served also as president of its Wilmington Chapter; served as a psychologist in the Wilmington Public Schools and concurrently as consultant with other schools and agencies in Delaware, being involved in various school and community committees and conferences related to the process of desegregating the public schools; a persistent advocate in support of early identification of students of exceptional ability and chaired the district-wide committee charged with the developing special enriched programs for the gifted and talented.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Mildred (Thornhill) McGowan.
Dr. McGowan is survived by a sister Dorothy M. Smith of Bowie, Maryland, and other relatives. Devoted friends of the family include, Bessie Bungy Evans of Wilmington and James Benjamin Holladay of New Castle.
Services and interment in the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Bear, DE, were held privately.