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Arthur Paul Cowley, 77, Porterville, California, formerly of Jefferson City, passed away Thursday, March 4, 2010, in San Juan Capistrano, California, surrounded by his immediate family.
Art was born in Jefferson City, Missouri on April 9, 1932, to Arthur Bernard Cowley and Leonilla M. Tellman of Jefferson City. In 1962, he married Maureen Louise Sullivan of Lewiston, Idaho, the daughter of Irvin John Sullivan and Celeste Uhlenkott Sullivan. For 35 years, Art worked for the U.S. Forest Service, where he was a forest ranger and held management positions in Public Affairs and Environmental Education. He worked for the Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests in Idaho, the Francis Marion Forest in South Carolina, the Ouachita National Forest in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and the Sequoia National Forest in Porterville, California. He was a resident of Porterville since 1979. Since 1995, Art was State Coordinator for the American Forests' California Registry of Big Trees, where he traveled throughout California at his own expense in search of arboreal giants and found 190 of the state's 318 Biggest Trees. In 1998, while attending mass at the historic Carmel Mission, Art identified what became a state champion, a Blue Gum Eucalyptus, on Clint Eastwood's Mission Ranch property. Excerpt from article in American Forests magazine: While Clint Eastwood has long recognized the tree's beauty, it was American Forests' California Big Tree Coordinator, Art Cowley, who first noticed its potential. Cowley spied the tree in 1998, while attending mass at the Mission (Carmel, Calif.) and used his always-close-at-hand yellow tape measure to check his guess. Art had been featured in numerous publications including American Forests, The Sun, The New York Times, The St. Louis Globe, The Porterville Recorder, and The Orange County Register. The "major landmark" of Art's career, he said in a December 2002, article for the Bakersfield Californian, was planning the Trail of 100 Giants for the Sequoia National Forest. This popular interpretive trail winds through old-growth Giant Sequoia trees, some of the biggest trees on earth. Art conducted Environmental Education workshops and courses for 30 years for various colleges, including Fresno Pacific University, Fresno State University, Reedley College, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Arkansas, teaching courses including Project Wild, Project Learning Tree, Giant Sequoia Management, and The Biggest Trees of California - a Cultural and Economic Resource. Art graduated from St. Peter's Catholic High School in Jefferson City, Missouri. He received a B.S. degree in Forestry from the University of Missouri and a Masters in Education from the University of Arkansas. Active in state and community affairs, Art was past Chairman of the Board for the Three-Forests Interpretive Association for Sequoia, Sierra, and Stanislaus National Forests; past Board Chairman of the Tule River Parkway Association; and was a Naturalist with Tulare County's outdoor school (SCICON). In Hot Springs, he served as President of the Society of American Foresters; Chairman for the Jaycees Parks Board Association and President for Saint Mary's Parish Council; and helped formulate TREE (Training Resources in Environmental Education). He received numerous awards, including the Arkansas Wildlife Federation "Forest Conservationist of the Year" award, Project Learning Tree Award, and the Hot Springs Key Man award. Since 2005, Art was a patient in one of the nation's most promising clinical trials for Alzheimer's, Elan Pharmaceutical's AAB001 Clinical Trial, and dedicated four years helping further research for this disease. Our lovable, good-natured, inspirational "Big Tree Man" is no longer with us here on earth, but Art will live forever in our hearts. In lieu of flowers, Art would have liked it if you could plant a tree in his memory, spend some time hiking in a National Forest, and hug your family members and let them know how special they are. Art had asked that his epitaph read "Now that I'm up high, I can see and find the biggest trees easier. I'll let you know where they are. May the world grow like a beautiful tree." Preceding him in death were his brothers, John and Jim Cowley and his sisters, Janet Schwering and Roberta Selvidge. Surviving him are his brother, William Cowley of Dallas, Texas, his devoted wife, Maureen Sullivan Cowley and their four children: Mary Takaoka and her husband Tsuyoshi of Yokohama, Japan; Camille Newton and her husband Ray of Bonsall, California; Jane von Bothmer and her husband Bernard of San Francisco; and Arthur Ian Cowley of Porterville, California. Art and Maureen were blessed with seven grandchildren, Erika, Monika, and Naomi Takaoka, Brandon Williams, Connor Newton, and Athena and Tatiana von Bothmer. The rosary will be recited at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 13, at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Lewiston, Idaho, the same church where Art married his sweetheart Maureen 48 years earlier, followed by a funeral Mass at 10 and burial at Normal Hill Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction Vassar-Rawls Funeral Home, Lewiston, Idaho.