The 100 / #89: Eugene Cowart

#89 Eugene Cowart Design Engineer Alabama, USA

About Eugene

Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am 88 years of age ,live alone in a retirement community in Huntsville Alabama. My wife is deceased . I was born in De Quincy Louisiana in 1923 but grew up in Pensacola Florida , educated in public schools and graduating from high school there in 1941.

I attended Auburn University (then known as the Alabama Polytechnic Institute) for 1 1/2 years and after the war started I left school and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942. I was trained as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Force and served as a bomber pilot in Europe. Upon completion of service I returned to college at the University of Alabama, graduating in 1948 as a Mechanical Engineer (BSME). During this time at the University I married (1946) and my first child was born. My first job upon graduation was as a Field Engineer in a Texas Oil Refinery. Leaving the Refinery I began to work in a large Kraft Paper Mill in Alabama where my second child was born. My. first assignment there was as a Machine Designer in paper converting, and later becoming one of the mill’s Production Shift Foremen .

After several years I moved on to a major Aerospace Corporation as a Design Engineer. This continued for some 30 years (with one interruption of service as a Plant Manager in an Alabama Chemical Plant-that necessitated my return south for family obligations). I then returned to the Aerospace company, having worked on such projects as the Bomarc Air Defense missile, Minuteman Ballistic Missile, Hydrofoils, Apollo program, the Lunar Rover , The Space Station and several Army Weapon Systems. Assignments progressed from Design Engineer, Lead engineer, Group Chief, Section Engineer Program Manager and retiring as Chief Engineer of Division in 1990.

What one thing are you most proud of in your years so far?
My proudest accomplishment is my marriage of 65 years to the same woman, 2 outstanding children and a wonderful extended family all of which brings me great joy and happiness. My creed would be “Love, Joy, and Fidelity”. On a more mundane level my chief hobby is woodworking. One of my pieces of which I am proud was a Cherry Roll Top Desk, pigeon holes, drawers, tambour et al.

What one thing do you hope to have achieved by the age of 100?
By the time I reach 100 (if allowed) I will to the extent possible try be a good example such that my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren can be developed to the maximum of their capabilities. In every case I will attempt to inculcate in them honesty, virtue, and the acceptance of responsibility for their
actions.

What one thing have you seen in your lifetime which has changed the world the most significantly?
The most significant event occurring in my lifetime was (to me) the invention of the transistor. This made communication possible across the world and into the most remote locales via battery powered hand held radios and cell phones. Knowledge is power. Now all may know.

What piece of advice would you give to your 10 year old self?
What I would tell any 10 year old. Listen and observe. Have adventures. When you lose or fail try and learn something from it. You will lose on occasion but that need not mean defeat. Winning is getting up one more time than you are knocked down. Always take responsibility for you actions. Later, As an adult, do what you like and like what you do. That makes for success. Be a leader.

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