James Benjamin Cowgill

  • Born: October 7, 1952
  • Died: March 13, 2018
  • Location: Twin Lakes, Ohio

Bissler & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory

628 West Main Street
Kent, OH 44240

Tel. (330) 673-5857

Tribute & Message From The Family

James Benjamin Cowgill, 65, of Kent, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, at his home in Twin Lakes.

He was born October 7, 1952 in Barnesville, to James Burris and Mary Lou (Skinner) Cowgill. He was a 1970 graduate of Cambridge High School where he cultivated his love for sports as a member of the men's basketball, track and football teams. He continued his education (and had a lot of fun) at Baldwin Wallace College where he was an active member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity while pursuing his bachelor's of arts in education. From 1974 to 1975, he served as a graduate assistant and football coach at Bowling Green State University while earning his master's degree. He later completed post-masters education at the University of Akron, Ashland University and Kent State University.

His first job would take him to Kent, Ohio, a city where he would ultimately raise a family and make his home for the balance of his life. As a physical education teacher at Theodore Roosevelt High School, serving as the department chairperson from 1983 to 1986, he thrived in his role as an assistant varsity football coach and head coach for the girls' track and field team, leading the ladies to several conference championships and taking several individual athletes to state competition. He also moonlighted as a high school basketball official for 25 years. He later pursued a career as a high school administrator, serving as an assistant principal at Orange High School from 1986-90 and principal at Copley High School from 1990-95, making a number of lasting, life-long friendships along the way. He returned to Kent City Schools in 1995, taking the position of director of business services. He would eventually finish his career at Field High School, serving as an assistant high school principal and transportation supervisor. He also served as a student teacher supervisor for Mount Union College and worked part-time at the Jenkins Student-Athlete Academic Center at Kent State University.

Education and athletics were a huge part of his life, but it was the students that gave his life purpose. Ben impacted the lives of countless young people and was not only a mentor but a friend, maintaining relationships with those he taught and coached long after they left the halls of their respective high schools. His friends, family and community are what he held most dear. He had a very special place in his heart for the city of Kent and the people who lived there.

Another huge part of his life was helping families of young kids affected by the financial and emotional difficulties associated with pediatric cancer. He and his wife established The Benny Cowgill Foundation, a not-for-profit organization founded in the name of their son Benny who passed away after a long, courageous battle with cancer at the age of 16. He served as the foundation president, working with area hospitals to identify families in need and providing financial gifts to those with expenses not generally covered by other means of assistance. He loved meeting and getting to know the families personally. His compassion for those facing these hardships knew no bounds, and he continued to carry on the legacy of his brave son with pride and perseverance.

Simply put, Ben was a fun-loving person with a huge heart. His life experiences provided him an endless catalogue of stories from the entertaining to the intriguing to the insightful, and he would share any number of those stories with anyone willing to listen. He could command a room, whether it was giving a 21-minute speech at his daughter's wedding or presiding over an official school assembly. He happily took on the role as "life of the party" whenever needed, and people genuinely loved Mr. Cowgill, Coach, Papa Cowgs. He had a laugh that exuded pure joy, and his smile was always true and genuine. He loved Ohio State football and basketball and would attend games regularly with his daughter in Columbus. He loved small cars and taking "short cuts" (that were more like scenic routes) around town with one arm hanging out of the driver's side window, giving a wave to any familiar face he saw. If he wasn't in his car, you might have seen him on his red Harley-Davidson Road King in a pink Polo button down shirt, always the consummate professional. His drink of choice was a Southern Comfort on the rocks with several cherries; he loved live music, especially rhythm and blues or Motown; and he took great pride in his home, striving to have the greenest, most manicured lawn in the neighborhood.

On July 26, 1975, Ben married the love of his life, Carolyn, and was a devoted husband for 40 years until her passing in 2015. He loved his children with all his heart and was an especially doting father.

He is survived by his daughter, Lindsay (David) Amundson of Columbus; brothers, Steve (Linda) Cowgill of New Concord, Charles (Carla) Cowgill of Cambridge, Ken (Celeste) Cowgill of Cambridge, and Bill (Chris) Cowgill of Cambridge; sister, Peg (Dan) Wilcox of Zanesville. He was preceded in death by his son, Benjamin "Benny" Scott Cowgill, and his wife, Carolyn Munk Cowgill.

Memorial services will be held on Saturday, April 14 at 11:00 am at the Kent United Church of Christ, 1400 East Main Street, Kent, OH. A reception at the Black Iron Grille, 7291 St Rt 43, Kent, OH, will take place following the service from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Bissler & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory are handling the arrangements.


Condolence & Memory Journal

My condolences again Lindsay and David and all your siblings Big Ben especially Peggy and of course pledge brother Kenny. Just came from the service and the meal and it was a great celebration for a wonderful man. I will never forget Big Ben and its heart that was bigger than him especially while pledging a fraternity in the winter of 1973. God bless Benny and see you again someday. Vtl, Corky

Posted by Charles corky Hall - Chesterland, OH   April 14, 2018

Can say it any better than this: He was a Fine Man, Son, Brother, Husband, Father and Friend. Truly epitomized all that was ATO at BW! A great Brother. Rest in Peace Ben. VTL! Sums

Posted by Mark Summers - Avon Lake, OH - Classmate   April 08, 2018

So sorry to learn of Ben's sudden unexpected death. My thoughts and prayers for each of you as you fondly cherish precious experiences you shared with Ben. I was fortunate that when Ben approached Akron Children's Hospital Oncology Department years ago, I was asked to meet with him. I immediately could appreciate his love for Benny and desire to honor his legacy by assisting other children and families facing the stress of coping with cancer. Ben cared about each family and truly made the process of assistance very simple and generous. I was able to attend a few of the foundation's fund raising events. I still smile when I recall how winners would cover the cost of the item but then immediately forego the item so additional money could be raised. This was very ingenious, however my senior Dad couldn't understand how anyone "won" an item when it wasn't accepted! I had to explain the generous support to my Dad for weeks afterward. Take gentle care of yourselves.

Posted by Nancy Carst - Akron, OH - Acquaintance   March 28, 2018

So sorry to hear of Ben's passing. Prayers and condolences to the Cowgill family. RIP Ben.

Posted by Gary Bradison - Reseda, CA - Friend   March 25, 2018

Ben,,,You called me when I was fighting cancer.Your comforting and reassuring voice was so welcome.From your car or at home.Lifelong friend..LOVEYOU buddy.RIP...Herbie Neeland

Posted by Herbie Neeland - Rogers, AR - friend   March 23, 2018

Lindsey - I'm so very sorry for your loss.

Posted by Judy Wearden - Kent, OH - Friend   March 23, 2018

May your Guardian Angels keep vigil with you during your time of loss. Prayers and Healing Light sent to all.

Posted by Cheri Harding - Freeport, OH - Friend   March 22, 2018

It has been my pleasure to work with Ben at the Jenkins Student-Athlete Academic Assistance Center at Kent State University for the past four years. Ben is kind, understanding, fun and I am happy to have become his friend.

Posted by Nancy Kovach - Stow, OH - Coworker   March 21, 2018

The Sun does not always shine on foothills of Appalachian Mountain. He children born there that go out into wider world do shine. Thank you God for life of Ben Cowgill.

Posted by Jim Hugh Thorn - MASSILLON, OH - Family Friend   March 21, 2018


great times together being brothers of ato

Posted by fred schubert - medina, OH - Friend   March 21, 2018

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