John Paul Kowal, 55, of Brookline, Mass., a free-lance journalist and nephew of former Buffalo Mayor Chester Kowal, was found dead in his home Monday (Sept. 29, 1997) after suffering a heart attack over the weekend.
Born in Buffalo, he was a 1960 graduate of Kensington High School and a 1964 graduate of the University at Buffalo, where he played linebacker on the football team and was editor of the student newspaper, the Spectrum.
His sister, Mary, said that his career in journalism grew from his youthful passion for scuba diving.
A member of the Buffalo Aqua Club as a teen, he explored extensively underwater in Lakes Erie and Ontario and developed an interest in underwater photography.
"He'd take pictures and often they wanted an article to go with it," she said.
He also took part in underwater tests for the Navy in New Groton, Conn.
"The Navy found him an excellent physical specimen," his longtime friend, Henry Simon, said. "They subjected him to deep diving tests in artificial tanks, and he set endurance records."
After earning a master's degree in technical writing at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he moved to Boston, where he pursued his free-lance career.
He contributed articles and photos to leading newspapers, trade magazines and special-interest publications, winning a number of awards.
For a time, he was a partner in a public relations firm Raymond, Kowal and Wicks, which worked with high-technology businesses in the Boston area. In recent years, he was renowned as a computer consultant and was in demand as a guest speaker.
A motorcycle enthusiast, his prize possession was an antique Vincent model. At the time of his death, he aspired to obtain factory sponsorship from BMW for a run in the annual Paris to Dakar, Africa, endurance race.
Survivors include a daughter, Katherine, a senior at Boston Latin School, and two sisters, Mary of Cheektowaga and Patricia Ryngwalski of the Town of Boston.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Nov. 15 in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, 115 O'Connell Ave.