MASCOUTAH — Former Mascoutah schools superintendent Sam McGowen died suddenly Wednesday morning. He was 68.
The news of McGowen's passing hit the district hard. Teachers in the Mascoutah School District received phone calls notifying them of the news. A cause of death was not immediately known.
McGowen spent 45 years in the education field, 18 of them at the helm in Mascoutah. He retired June 30.
Board of Education President Greg Guenther said McGowen dedicated his life to education.
"He was a tireless worker and advocate for public education in the community. He left his footprints in this district in a positive way," Guenther said in a released statement. "Our outstanding academic scores, modern and well-maintained facilities, superior technology programs, and a well-trained and motivated staff are just a few of his myriad accomplishments. You simply cannot overstate his dedication to this district during his tenure.
"He was an honorable man who cared about each and every person he met along the way," Guenther continued. "Our hearts and prayers go out to his wife, Sue, and members of the McGowen family. This is a great loss for the family, the school district and the community."
A memorial service in honor of McGowen will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday in the Mascoutah High School auditorium with funeral services immediately following the visitation.
McGowen began his teaching career in 1967 as a social studies teacher in Bonne Terre, Mo., working his way through progressive assignments as an elementary principal and junior high principal and superintendent in Bonne Terre. He then became superintendent in Dexter, Mo., and was a superintendent in Paris, Ill., before coming to District 19 in 1994.
McGowen was also a retired member of the Missouri Army National Guard. At his retirement in 1993, he had achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel. He devoted 27 years of active and reserve military service to his country, primarily in Army engineer battalions.
A native of Puxico, Mo., McGowen attended Southeast Missouri State University, graduating in 1966 with a bachelor's degree in social studies/English. He also earned a master's degree at SEMO and a doctorate degree at St. Louis University.
Moll Funeral Home in Mascoutah is in charge McGowen's arrangements.