Swan Songs - July 2009
James Edward Cowan
James Edward Cowan left for greener pastures on June 25th, still concerned about his irrigation duties and the need to move his herd of horses back to Seeley Lake for summer grazing. Jim lost his rapid battle with pneumonia and MERSA in his lungs and blood stream.
Born August 15, 1934, Jim’s parents, George and Edith, who preceded him in death, would have never imagined the many roads, successes and varied interests their baby son would explore during his 75 years. His early school years were spent in Chinook, working as a paper boy, newsstand clerk, farm and ranch laborer and grocery stock boy.
After high school graduation he worked in the oil fields of North Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma and Wyoming. For two years he served in the US Army 7th Infantry Division in Korea with Special Clearance for Secret and Top Secret. During that tour of duty he married his love, Joan Y. Grogan in 1955, forever after referring to her as his “new bride”.
While in college at Northern Montana College and the U of M, Jim’s strong work ethic continued, while collecting friends and stories along the way, sharing all with Joan. After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in 1960, Jim began his banking career. Jim graduated from the Commercial Division of Pacific Coast Banking School, University of Washington in 1973.
Jim’s banking career reflected his ability and success in financial management–in Havre, Fort Benton, and Great Falls and achieved one of his greatest goals of becoming part owner of an independent bank in Polson and moved his family to beautiful western Montana. His final and most rewarding career achievement was organizing the First Valley Bank in Seeley Lake, serving as C.E.O. and controlling stockholder.
In 1998, Jim retired, trading his suit and ties for the more comfortable blue overalls so he could begin the dream of handling his own hay and irrigation ranches in Seeley Lake and Charlo and in the winter months–enjoying traveling the Southwest in their motor coach. Jim claimed the Bob Marshall Wilderness as his play ground and is enjoying its majesty and beauty now.
Jim received much recognition in his professional career: Governors Schwinden, Stevens and Racicot appointed Jim as he served 10 years as Vice Chairman of the Montana Board of Investments and 10 years as Chairman of the Montana Teachers Retirement System. But Jim was a man of diversity. The “cowboy” Jim was known to many as a horseman and having a knack and ability to work and understand the horses, and also known to his long list of email recipients as a sender of political views, humor, and recipes to add to the enjoyment of living.
We will miss Jim and the soft spoken words, those given in earnest and those given with that deep laugh of enjoyment that will be missed by the cow pokes, the carefree friends on river floats, and the unhurried visits that Jim shared with us all.
Jim is survived by his loving wife Joan and three children that he was very proud of: James N, of Sheridan, WY, Vicki M. of Portland, OR, and Jeffrey W. of Libby along with 3 grandchildren (James N.) Kieran, Tara, and Timothy Cowan. Other survivors include his sisters, Marion Culleton, and Sandra Cowan, and Brother Ted. He is also survived by many relatives and special friends who he considered family.
In lieu of flowers memorial gifts may be sent to Montana Special Olympics (www.somt.org), Seeley Lake Community Foundation, or a charity of your choice.
A memorial service led by Pastor Louis Stoker to celebrate his life will be held at Seeley Lake Community Hall on Friday, July 3, 2009 at 2 pm with a reception following.
Honorary pall bearers will be Kieran Cowan, Bruce Wold, Mark Nicholson, Roger Johnson, and Dick Duncan.

Trent N. Toms
Trent N. Toms, 67, of Seeley Lake, was transferred home to be with Jesus on July 19, 2009.
Trent was born on January 23, 1942, raised with older sister Toni Wilson of Preist River, ID and younger sister Tammy Bauer of Billings, MT by grandparents in Logan, MT. Trent graduated from high school in Forsyth, MY.
Following graduation, he spent six years in the US Navy as a machinist.
Trent married Glenda Hardin in 1964 and had three children: Karl Toms of Marysville, WA, Kati Pereira of Modesta, CA and Dustin Toms of Renton, WA.
Trent worked as a machinist for about 20 years, owning his own business for 15 years. He spent eight to ten years in the Seattle area, where he married Cynthia (Sam) Slater. Trent was also in sales and moved back to Montana in 1998, where he was semi-retired and the owner and operator of an ornamental iron shop in Seeley Lake.
A lot of good things happened in Trent’s life, the latest being his partner Kathy Augustinas of Missoula. (He would say that God sent him an angel when talking about her.)
He would tell you he had a wonderful life and a lot of expensive hobbies, which caused him to meet numerous good people.
Trent is also survived by his mother Lola Mortensen and several half brothers and sisters.
A going away party will be held for Trent at Mission Bible Fellowship church on Hwy. 83 in Seeley Lake on July 27, 2009 at 1pm.

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