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Dorothy A. McGowan, active community volunteer May 15, 1928 - March 26, 2011

Dorothy A. McGowan, widow State Supreme Court Justice Thomas F. McGowan and active community volunteer, died Saturday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst. She was 82.

Born Dorothy Rowe in St. Louis, she moved to Buffalo with her family when she was still a child. She was a 1946 graduate of Nardin Academy and earned a bachelor's degree in history from D'Youville College in 1950.

She met her future husband while she was still a D'Youville student working in between classes at Underecker's, a popular ice cream and candy shop on Allen Street. Thomas McGowan was a Buffalo police officer at the time. The couple married in 1951. He died in 1997.

Mrs. McGowan managed child foster care cases in South Buffalo as a social worker with the Erie County Welfare Department. In 1956, she earned a master's degree in education from Canisius College.

The couple and their six children resided in Buffalo's University District and spent their summers in Fort Erie, Ont. During this time, Mrs. McGowan was a full-time homemaker who also devoted her time to various activities, including March of Dimes campaigns, and served as a Cub Scout den mother. She lent her support during her husband's various political campaigns and during his terms on the Erie County Board of Supervisors, as a state senator and, ultimately, State Supreme Court justice.

When Mrs. McGowan's children were older, she worked occasionally as a substitute teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools. She also worked at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, providing volunteer services to cancer patients at the former Butler Mansion. She also volunteered with the Dominican Monastery on Doat Street.

In the 1990s, she was appointed to the board of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library and continued her involvement as a member of the Library Foundation.

She is survived by two sons, Thomas J. and Michael; three daughters, Patricia A. Lipere, Margaret M. Hurley and Paula Nordstrom; and two sisters, Mary Alice Sloan and Wilette Leopold.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. today in St. Louis Catholic Church, 35 Edward St.

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