Obituary of Earle W. McGowin
As her family gathered in her sunny hospice room, Earle “Cis” McGowin had a few beautiful moments of clarity. She awoke and said, “what are we celebrating?” Never wanting to miss anything, Cis smiled and joined the conversation, something she hadn't been able to do in the days leading up to this moment. Delighted she had been the honoree at one final soiree, she passed away peacefully early the next morning, August 9th, 2019. She was 97 years old.
Born at home on Prospect Street in Sag Harbor on June 2, 1922 Cis (born Marguerite Earle Wright) was the daughter of Redfield and Elizabeth Wright. She and her sister Bette were raised in the Mashashimuet Park House on Jermain Avenue. She attended Pierson High School where she developed a love of sports and went on to study physical education at Cortland University.
In 1942, she married the love of her life, James A.”Buster” McGowin Jr. and moved to Southampton where they raised three children, Judy, Jim and Bruce; and owned two successful local businesses, The Southampton Garage located on Jobs Lane and The James A. McGowin Jr. Bus Company.
Cis and Buster’s retirement years were filled with adventure. They loved traveling, boating, hosting family holidays and spending time with their friends in Southampton and Stuart, Florida. There was always something to celebrate and Cis liked to be in the thick of it.
Cis was a force of nature: strong-willed, independent and spirited, with a fierce love of family. Nothing scared her and even well in to her 90s she was swimming in the ocean and taking boat rides no matter the weather. She asked for a wheelbarrow for her 90th birthday and a new bathing suit for her 97th.
Being outside made her happiest but grass never grew under her feet. If she wasn’t gardening at her beloved Camp on Shore Road you could catch her teaching the local kids to swim, sitting alongside Buster on the flying bridge of the Seabus as they headed out to Robins Island or competing in a golf tournament at the Southampton Golf Club.
If she was forced to be inside she brought the outdoors in, creating beautiful watercolor paintings of her favorite local landscapes, competing in Olde Town Garden Club flower shows, making wreaths for the church Christmas sale and canning her own beach plum jelly and bread and butter pickles.
A strong and outspoken woman who was ahead of her time, Cis was a leader. She served as a deacon, elder and President of the Women’s Association at The First Presbyterian Church in Southampton which she attended faithfully until the end of her life, and on the Board of Education for the Southampton School District.
Her no excuses, get outside and get it done, “take the tarts while the tarts are passing” philosophy was an inspiration and example for her entire family. They all share her love of the outdoors and zest for life. She delighted in watching her grandchildren and great grandchildren grow up and never tired of giving them lessons on etiquette and manners. “Elbows off the table” was a constant refrain at McGowin family holidays.
Her husband of 58 years, James A McGowin Jr. and her son, James K. McGowin, preceded Cis in death.
She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law Judith and Charles Lattanzio; her son and daughter-in-law Bruce and Karyn McGowin, her daughter-in-law Kathleen McGowin; six grandchildren, Elizabeth Lattanzio, Kristen Schiavoni, Bryan McGowin, Kevin McGowin, Patrick McGowin, Michael McGowin and Jan Baker as well as 11 great grandchildren, Cooper and Tucker Schiavoni, Liam and Owen McGowin, Bryce, Eleanor and Campbell McGowin, Finn McGowin, Tanner McGowin and Leigh and Jack Telitz.
Cis lived with steadfast dignity and grace and loved with the same level of intensity. She will be deeply missed by her friends and family.
In memory of Cis, donations can be made to East End Hospice or the First Presbyterian Church in Southampton.