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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Services for Lillian McGowan, former Library Trustee, set for Friday

Plainfield Public Library Trustee Lillian McGowan (r.) with
Board President Anne Louise Davis and Library Director
Joe Da Rold at an event in the late 1990s.
(Photo courtesy Joe Da Rold.)

Services have been set for Lillian McGowan, who served two terms as a Trustee of the Plainfield Public Library after a distinguished 36-year career that ended when she retired as Head of Circulation in 1989.

The funeral will be held at Rose of Sharon Community Church, where Lillian was a member for more than 70 years. Viewing at Noon on Friday, followed by a service at 1:00 PM.

Rose of Sharon is at 825 West 7th Street. Parking on site. ROS is an accessible building.

Below is an obituary supplied by the family, which will run in tomorrow's newspapers --

LILLIAN VERA McGOWAN of Plainfield, NJ passed away peacefully in her home on Friday, July 15, 2016 at the age of 92.  Lillian, better known as “Puggy” to her close friends and family was born on May 21, 1924 in Harlem, NY and raised in New Brunswick, NJ.

Lillian graduated from New Brunswick High School in 1941 and during her high school years she was involved in different sports but excelled in basketball.  She began her professional career in 1953 with the Plainfield Public library where she worked for 36 years before retiring on July 31, 1989.

At the age of 18 she relocated to Plainfield and on July 13, 1942 she married the love of her life, Daniel “Danny” McGowan.  Eleven years after their marriage, Lillian and Danny purchased their first home on Spooner Avenue making them the first African American homeowners in that neighborhood.  During their 50+ years of marriage, Lillian and Danny were blessed to travel throughout the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the West Indies. And with each trip they would call the family together, pull out the movie projector to watch 8mm tapes for hours – yes 8mm tapes of their vacations. 

It was important to Lillian to make sure her children enjoyed their childhood so there were frequent visits to the Jersey shore and amusement parks like Coney Island and Palisades Park.  She was also adamant about introducing her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the joys of reading, and they can attest that The Jungle Book and Where the Wild Things Are were two of the first books she read to them. And without a doubt she made sure that her great grandchildren had every Dr. Suess book ever written. Even as Lillian’s family grew family values and traditions remained.  Every year she would host either Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner where the day did not end without a game of charades.  And not to say our grandmother cheated, but somehow her team always seemed to win.  And the most exciting part of Christmas would be the gift from Gramma & Pop Pop because you knew it was going to be great. 

Lillian was extremely generous.  Whether it was assisting financially, or opening her home to help others get on their feet, she was always willing to help her immediate family and extended family in any way she could. 

As an avid lover of the theater Lillian was a member of the Crossroads Theater group in New Brunswick, NJ and one of her favorite pass times was taking in Broadway shows.  Puggy also loved crossword puzzles and at any given time you could find her at her kitchen table with the NY Times crossword puzzles – completing them with no real trouble at all, while enthusiastically watching whatever football was on.

Lillian was a member of the Rose of Sharon Community Church for over 70 years, originally under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Ovie Lattimore.  She served as a volunteer in the church office for many years and on the hospitality committee.  She was later appointed as a church Mother by her much loved Pastor Bishop LaVerne Ball.

Although frail in body, the woman we know as Ma, Gramma, GramGram, Aunt Puggy, Lillian and Mother McGowan kept her love for people, her humor and quick wit even to the end.

Left to cherish her memory are her brother William Patterson of New Brunswick, NJ, her sister Edith Collins of Plainfield, NJ, her daughter Carolyn Reese of Lawrenceville, GA, her son Robert McGowan (Virginia) of Plainfield, NJ, her two step-sons Daniel McGowan (Shirley) of Jersey City, NJ and Ronald McGowan (Maria) of Bayonne, NJ, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.  Lillian was preceded in death by her husband Danny McGowan and her sisters Marjorie Patterson and Flora Taylor.
I will always remember Lillian's good humor and dedication to the Library when I was an employee and she was a Trustee. My condolences to her family. She will be missed.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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