In Memory

Michael McGowan

July 29, 1945 - November 25, 2017. Michael McGowan passed away peacefully on November 25th of complications associated with his treatment for Prostate Cancer. He was born in the same Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, CA 72 years ago to parents James Atkinson McGowan and Barbara Louise (Bevan) McGowan. He is survived by his younger siblings John (Dianne) McGowan, Susan McGowan and Christine (McGowan) Hess, two cousins on the East Coast, and several nieces and nephews, plus some grand-nieces and nephews.

Growing up, the family lived in San Gabriel, San Marino, Scarsdale NY, Shaker Heights OH, and Fox Chapel PA by the time Michael entered high school. All of the moves helped to develop his skills at making new friends.

He graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Philosophy, followed immediately by a JD degree earned at the Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. Following his admission to the California State Bar in 1972, he moved to Fresno CA where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney for Fresno County. He loved the drama and challenge of trial work, and rose to Senior Deputy for Felony Prosecutions, traveling to regional Justice Courts to prosecute major cases.

Around his 30th birthday, he decided he needed a change of scenery, and traveled to Europe with a backpack and sense of adventure. Within a few months, he lived in Heidelberg teaching business and law classes for the University of Maryland at US Military facilities. He traveled around the world teaching for 4 years with the University, living in Ankara, Frankfurt, Seoul and Okinawa before returning to Fresno.

He joined Dean Witter as a stockbroker, and built a successful following helping clients understand markets and manage their investments. While in Fresno, he began the practice of sharing his feelings about investments and stocks through informal newsletters and local radio appearances, while polishing his speaking skills through Toastmasters and Stand-up Comedy training. He began writing a regular column on investments for the American Bar Association Journal, and handled arbitrations for NASD and the American Arbitration Association. He became a Registered Investment Advisor and Certified Financial Planner, and began offering live investment seminars. After the market collapse in 1988, he left Dean Witter and moved to Santa Barbara and took a job as Trust Officer at Santa Barbara Bank & Trust. In Santa Barbara, he volunteered as legal advisor to the Goleta Valley Hospital Bioethics Committee, and also worked as a Hospice Volunteer. In the mid-1990's, Mike moved to Pasadena, and worked for City of Hope's National Medical Center as a Director of Gift and Estate Planning. By the late 1990's, Mike had begun to fashion a career leading seminars on investments and his favorite topic (gold and silver as money..) and traveled throughout the US sharing his knowledge with attorneys, accountants and estate planners. Assuming the persona "Financial Foghorn" as a warning over the risks of financial "engineering" and over-leveraged markets, he authored two books: "Terror-proofing your money and your life" and "Financial Foghorn's Guide to Gold". Over the past ten years, he has authored a weekly "Tuesday Afternoon Newsletter" on financial topics for hundreds of subscribers. His humor, wisdom, charm and firm adherence to his beliefs will be missed.

The family is most appreciative of the support Mike received from his Angel Pixie Lyn and others, including those from Sukyo Mahikari who provided great comfort during his illness. A Celebration of Life is planned in Pasadena January 20th, and friends may contact the family via his former e-mail, text or cell phone contact information for details. Memorial contributions, if desired, may be directed to the charity of your choice, or either Sukyo Mahikari in Sierra Madre or the Prostate Cancer Foundation in Los Angeles.

Published in the Los Angeles Times from Dec. 22 to Dec. 23, 2017

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12/23/17 07:36 AM #1    

Forrest Studebaker

Mike was a friend and colleague in Heidelberg, and remained a source of inspiration and valued friendship in our mutual years of residence in California.  What might one add to the encomia of his published obituary?

First, he was always a wonderful blend of philosopher, and lawyer.

Second, he was right when he advised me that "corporations have replaced governments Forrest," but perhaps as his careers indicate, he too never quite gave upon changing and limiting those respective roles.

Had one listened to his financial counsel, one might not still be 'adjuncting' at age 76; but one will in either event never be impoverished given his friendship, and that of many colleagues in OMA and beyond..   

Mike was a great soul, an entertaining colleague, and a very valued friend lost far too soon.  

12/23/17 11:50 AM #2    

Jeff Worley

I'm really, really sorry to hear this news. I got to know Mike in Heidelberg, in '75, and we became great pals. I enjoyed our conversations about philosophy and literature. He was a smart, funny man, and the best drinking companion a guy (or gal) could have.

One toast I remember us having fairly often was, "Let's drink to being young and healthy and gainfully employed!" [Thanks, U of M!]. If a gang of us (and "gang" is the right word) went out for dinner and then to make the rounds, Michael would occasionally wear a suit. I asked him why.  He said, "If you wear a suit you can get away with anything."

Sleep well, friend.  

12/24/17 08:02 AM #3    

Ken Shapiro

I met Mike in 1976, upon my arrival in Heidelberg.  Our friendship developed over the following years, as I visited Heidelberg between terms.  He introduced me to (as Jeff Worley aptly describes it in an earlier comment) "the Heidelberg gang."  Many of my fondest memories of my time with Maryland in Europe center on those inter-term visits to Heidelberg and times spent there with Mike and others.  Subsequently,  both Mike and I transferred to the Asian Division where we shared many other memorable adventures, including climbing Mt. Fuji at night (as I recall our recovery from a previous night's debauchery in Tokyo delayed our intended early morning departure) and traveling together to the PRC with the UMUC faculty group that visited there over the winter break in 1979-80 (once again, following a long night at the bar at the Peace Hotel, Mike and I managed to miss the next day's early-morning departure for a trip to the Geat Wall, but somehow managed to catch up with the group via taxi and avoid missing that extraordinary experience).  After returning to the States, Mike and I continued to see and communicate with each through the years that followed.

As noted by others, Mike was an intelligent, thoughtful and humorous guy, possessed of a sometimes acerbic wit and an "interesting take" on a variety of subjects (his fascination with gold and his attendant campaign urging the return to the gold standard being one just one comparatively recent example). However, beneath his sometimes gruff exterior, he was a deeply caring individual.  

Time spent with Mike was always time well spent.  We bent many elbows together and shared some unforgettable adventures.  It was a pleasure to know him, and a gift to learn from him.  RIP, friend.


12/24/17 11:41 AM #4    

Rod Romig

Ah, hell. I met Michael in '76. Hard not to be attracted to his wit and intellect. When I was in Heidelberg, I'd often visit the Hof, that dark warren of small apartments where Michael lived. Before we went out drinking, we'd polish off the better part of a bottle of Metaxa. Then off to Flotte's. The next part is blurry. Finally, regaining consciousness at Uve's Pizza on the Unterstrasse. 

It was great to see him and renew the spark at the Naples OMA reunion. Glad to have had that opportunity.

Thank you, Michael. It was a pleasure. I cherish those memories.

12/28/17 12:20 PM #5    

Judy Hennessey/Burge (Purdy)

I was the registrar for UofM in Worms & Heidelberg. I first met James Michael McGowan in a bar and "recruited" him on the spot to teach law related courses for UofM in Heidelberg. He lived with me and my roommate, Connie Turner. He was a very special man. I adored and loved him dearly. I have posted an album in the Photo Gallery with photos of James Michael McGowan and "the gang". Enjoy!


12/29/17 09:34 AM #6    

Forrest Studebaker

Judy...those photos:  great memories, but was I ever that slim, young and almost bearded.

The trip to the UK brought back a lot of memories; my old friends Alan and Mollie, your hosts.

No 13, unidentified with us, is possibly Arnie Danziger?


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