(1933 – 2022)
Throughout his life, papermaking was Wavell Cowan’s main interest. After obtaining a degree in mechanical engineering from McGill University in Montreal, he entered the Institute of Paper Chemistry in Appleton, WI, and graduated with a Ph.D. in paper chemistry. His first job after graduation was as Technical Manager with Clyde Paper in Scotland. He strongly believed in the power of data to diagnose and resolve process issues and developed instruments that could generate that data; he also had a strong interest in novel, innovative processes that improved paper production. Coming back to Montreal in the early 1960’s, he joined his father’s consulting engineering company, E & B Cowan, but soon realized that his preference was to develop his own company. He took over Pulmac which had been established by his father, Elijah Cowan, to hold various patents in papermaking and transformed it into an instrument company to help paper mills diagnose papermachine breaks caused by the furnish. Among several inventions and patents in his name, the Pulmac Shive Analyzer / MasterScreen™ is a staple in the paper industry, is sold and serviced throughout the world, and serves as a basis for a TAPPI Test method. Wavell retired in the late 1990’s and served as Scientific Advisor to the Company until his sudden death at home in Montpelier, VT, on October 26th.
He was a long-time member of TAPPI, the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry, and in 2015, TAPPI awarded him the Thomas F. Sheerin Sr. Service Award for outstanding service to the industry. He was an admirer of the famous papermaker, Dard Hunter, and for a long time, his hobby was hand papermaking, and he enjoyed many years as an active member of the Friends of Dard Hunter (now called North American Hand Papermakers). Wavell strongly believed in education and community service. Starting in the 1960’s he led several volunteer efforts including the founding of a community newspaper which today is still being published in the town of Montreal-West, Canada. He came to Moretown, Vermont in 1978 and got involved in school board activities, the local orchestra, supported local theatre and founded the School of Small Business Practice to help entrepreneurs manage their businesses professionally. He is the author of books on papermaking, small business, as well as on his perspective on the evolution of business, economics, and society.
He leaves behind his wife Earline Marsh, his three children, Joffrey (Olga), Brent (Jenny), and Pamela (Bob), and six grandchildren. He was 89 years old. A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held on April 22, 2023, at the St. John’s Club, 9 Central Ave., Burlington, VT 05401.