Monday, May 23, 2011

Capt. Elgin C. Cowart, Jr., USN, M.D. former Museum Curator & AFIP Director

[this obituary was provided to us by his family]

Elgin Courtland Cowart, Jr., M.D., USN Ret.

Dr. Elgin C. Cowart, 87, of Potomac, Maryland died November 1, 2010, after a long bout with Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Cowart is survived by his wife, Madeleine Mary Hoge Cowart; and their children: Phillip Joseph Hoge (Susan) of Crofton, MD; Mary Kim Hoge Kammann of San Diego, CA; James Christopher Hoge, Michael Gregg Hoge of Washington, DC; and John Patrick Hoge, of Annapolis, MD. Additional survivors also include his son & daughter of his first marriage, Steve Cowart (Teresa) of Escondido, CA; daughter, Susan Cowart Ellis of El Paso, Texas; and many grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents, Elgin Sr. and Annie Susie McAllister Cowart; his beloved grandmother, Susie McAllister; and his brothers, Mac and Jack Cowart.

Originally a born native of Dothan, AL, Dr. Cowart's childhood was mostly spent in beloved Fort Gaines, GA. In those early years, he and his brothers happily visited his grandmother, "Miss Susie", and other relatives there. In Fort Gaines, he was known by his nickname, "Bubba". At the age of 13, Elgin's family set off for New Orleans, LA where he attended and graduated from Alcee Fortier High School in 1940. Having such a close-knit family, Elgin decided to stay close to home as World War II was starting. With the impending war, and having already signed on with the United States Navy, he studied at the Tulane School of Tropical Medicine, and earned his Doctorate of Medical Sciences degree in 1946. Upon finishing at Tulane, Elgin entered active duty being indoctrinated at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. It was there he received his orders to serve in WWII in the South Pacific theatre on the islands of Guam and Yap, where he was featured in the National Geographic Magazine providing medical aid. Upon his return from war, Dr. Cowart practiced family medicine for five fulfilling years in Brook Haven, MS.

In 1955, Elgin returned to active duty in the US Navy, for his residency training and serving in pathology at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland (1955-1960). Then upon receiving promotion, he was assigned to be a Commander supporting the Naval Medical Research Unit in Cairo, Egypt (1960-1964). In 1964, he was appointed curator at the United States Army Medical Museum back in Washington, DC on the National Mall until it closed and was relocated to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus (1964-1969). He was a very quiet and proud man - especially when it came to his work. Tying the up the ribbon to the Medical Museum in the closing ceremony with President Lyndon Johnson, where the Hirshhorn Museum and Gardens now stands, for him that was a very sad day and he looked forward to one day having a medical museum on the National Mall again.

Dr. Cowart served in the Vietnam War and in 1971 was presented the National Legion of Merit on behalf of the United States President in recognition of his meritorious conduct as commanding officer of the Naval Hospital aboard the USS Sanctuary out of Port Hueneme, California. Post-Vietnam War, he returned to AFIP as the Deputy Director (1975) and then Director (1976-1980) where he retired a first time after receiving the select distinction of being honored as the "Clinical Scientist of the Year (Sunderman Award)" for making outstanding contributions to clinical science in research, service, and teaching. Missing his passionate career, he came back to work to become the Director of American Registry of Pathology (1981-1990).

Elgin took great interest in his large extended family and looked forward to hunting trips back in his old childhood stomping grounds with his brothers and sons. He took fishing quite seriously until he took more interest in his Chesapeake Retriever dogs with which he spent many long hours training to receive awards and certificates of distinction. He had always hoped to travel to Alaska to cruise the waterways to see nature in its purest form and witness the Aurora Borealis. He no doubt will be remembered with great affection by those who truly knew and loved him.

A memorial mass and full honors burial will be held on Monday, June 13, 2011 at 11:00 A.M. at Ft. Myer Chapel, Arlington National Cemetery. Those attending are asked to arrive at the administration building at 10:30 A.M.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember Dr. Cowart, when I was in Egypt. My mother is in Arlington also. God bless you all, Dona Lynette Stewart