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Vivian J. McCowen

May 27, 2023
Kalamazoo, MI




Vivian "Viv" J. McCowen, of Kalamazoo passed away on Saturday, May 27, 2023 at the age of 100. She was born on December 18, 1922 in Bainbridge Twp in Berrien County. She was the daughter of Walter E. and Reta M. (Griffin) Smith. Vivian attended Benton Harbor schools and graduated from Benton Harbor High School with the Class of 1941. Shortly after high school, Viv's life would change forever. Vivian and some friends went to a ballroom dance at The Crystal Palace which was located on Silver Beach. It was there that she met a local solider named Robert "Bob" H. McCowen. They were married on June 12, 1943. After their wedding they lived for a period of time in Akron where Bob was stationed in the Army. Vivian was very proud of the fact, that she pitched in and helped during World War II and worked at Goodyear Tire Company. After the war Bob took at job with The Upjohn Company, and they moved back to Michigan making Kalamazoo their home. They had two sons named Bob and Tom. During those years they enjoyed spending time at their cottage at Sister Lakes. Viv was also very active in the Order of the Eastern Star as a member of the Corinthian Chapter No 123. She served in the capacity as Worthy Matron from 1956-57 and maintained a life membership.

For over 20 years Vivian worked as an administrative assistant for Portage Public Schools at Waylee Elementary until she retired in 1979. Her time at Waylee was very special to her, and she often talked about her days there. After retirement she and Bob moved to Sun City, Arizona. While in Sun City, Viv enjoyed her time playing golf, Bridge, and making ceramic crafts. Her summer months involved traveling to Alaska to see her son Tom and his family, as well as traveling to Michigan to see her son Bob and his family. Bob and Vivian loved to travel and went around the world. One of Vivian's most favorite places to travel was her many trips to Hawaii and a memorable trip to New Zealand. Locally Bob and Viv enjoyed exploring Arizona and sharing it with family that would come to visit.

Sadly, Robert passed away in 2010, after which Vivian moved back to Michigan and settled in Portage. She enjoyed playing Bridge at the Portage Senior Center and having her son Bob take her to the local casinos, with Gun Lake Casino being her favorite. Vivian will be remembered by her family for being elegant, strong-willed, independent, gracious, and generous.

Vivian is preceded in death by her husband: Robert; her two sons: Robert and Thomas; and brother John Smith.

Vivian is survived by her four grandsons: Steve (Jenny) McCowen, of Scotts; Jeff (Melanie) McCowen, of VA; Carl (Claire) McCowen, of MA; and Robert (Andra) McCowen, of KS; eight great grandchildren: Mackenzie, Joey, Stephen, Nick, Kate, Elliot, Emma, and Evan. She is also survived by two daughters-in-law's: Rose McCowen, of KS and Sue McCowen, of Jackson.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, June 12, 2023 at 11:30am St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church, 5855 East W Ave, Vicksburg, MI. There will be a visitation prior to the service from 10:30-11:30am at the church. Follow the service her ashes will be buried privately at Riverview Cemetery in St. Joseph.

While at please take time to sign Vivian's guestbook and/or share a memory with her family. Those who wish may make contributions to Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation, Portage Senior Center and/or Centrica Care Navigators.

The family is being cared for by the Avink, McCowen & Secord Funeral Homes and Cremation Society, 409 South Main Vicksburg, MI 49097 (269) 649-1697.