Partners of McCabe and Mack LLP, based in Poughkeepsie, New York, announced today that J. Joseph McGowan, a longtime attorney who recently retired after 56 years of service to the firm, has passed.
McGowan, who worked as part of the real estate, corporate, banking and secured lending team at the firm, graduated from Georgetown University in 1958 (Bachelor of Science, cum laude) and earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Harvard University Law School in 1961. After serving as Appellate Counsel (Captain) in the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the United States Army (1962-1963), he returned to his home Hudson Valley to begin a career in law that spanned nearly six decades.
The Partners stated: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Joe McGowan. Indeed, the loss to his family, friends, our firm, and the greater community is a profound one. His intellect, insight, and incredible spirit of service made a tremendous impact on everyone who had the great privilege of working with Joe. His legacy is truly extraordinary, and we will honor that by continuing to set the bar high in all that we do, just as he always did in all areas of his own life.”
In addition to McGowan’s role as a longtime local attorney, he also became well-known for his commitment to community service over the years. Volunteer roles included those with organizations such as Astor Services for Children and Families (where McGowan was Trustee from 1989-2018, Trustee Emeritus 2018-present, and Board President 1992-2004), Mount Saint Mary College (Trustee 1980-1989), Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley (Board Member 2000-2011, Secretary 2006-2011), Mid-Hudson Civic Center (Board President 1984-1985), as well as service to Abilities First and the City of Poughkeepsie Planning board.
McGowan was the recipient of numerous awards, including Garden Party Honoree (Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, 2013), Phelan Meritorious Trustee Award (Archdiocese of New York, 2012), Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award (Catharine Street Community Center, 2009), Serena Branson Leadership Award (Astor Services for Children and Families, 2004), and Dutchess County Bar Association Award (Gartland Award for Community Service, 2012).
McGowan lived with wife Mary, a retired certified public accountant, in the City of Poughkeepsie. He had two adult daughters, Ann and Sarah, and one granddaughter.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Wm G. Miller & Son Funeral Home.
Reflections from colleagues of McGowan:
Ellen Baker, Of Counsel at McCabe and Mack LLP: “Joe was a mentor without equal, and a good, honest, and brilliant man. I was fortunate to have worked with him for almost 40 years. Joe brought out the best in the young lawyers who worked with him. He taught us all, in a quiet unassuming manner. He set a high standard and we respected him so much that we did not want to disappoint him.
Joe was always involved with charitable organizations because it was the right thing to do, not for the acclaim. He was awarded an important award from the Archdiocese of NY and never told any of us. Doing what is right is what mattered to him.”
Scott D. Bergin, Partner at McCabe and Mack LLP: “Joe was the embodiment of the ideal attorney and counselor at law. He possessed superior intellect and skill and was the consummate gentleman. He was honest, humble, and decent. He was never too busy to listen to any question or concern and was always willing and happy to teach and provide valuable sage advice. Joe was universally recognized as a superior attorney but more importantly as a wonderful human being. Aside from being an excellent attorney, Joe had a genuine concern for his fellow man and giving back to the community. As an example, he served on the Board of Astor Services for Families and Children for more than 30 years. He held many positions including Chair of the Board of Trustees and devoted countless hours to help this organization. There was not a finer attorney or person than Joe.”
Richard R. DuVall, Partner at McCabe and Mack LLP: “Since I arrived at McCabe and Mack 35 years ago Joe had always been a paragon of steady calm wisdom. I had clear recollections of navigating complex transactions at his side and of his cool head and steady work guiding our clients to the finish line. We were frequently up against a dozen or so lawyers from several big NYC or out of state law firms, and he was unflappable and never out gunned. That made a huge impression on me, and on McCabe and Mack. He taught us all to dig into the meat of the deal, don’t be cowed by the other side, watch the ball and follow through.
Joe introduced me to the Squash club, a longtime project of his. He was there at the beginning of the Poughkeepsie Squash club, formed when the Poughkeepsie Tennis Club wouldn’t build a court– and he was there decades later, when he orchestrated the merger of the two clubs, and the Tennis club finally built two new squash courts. Joe was nothing if not persistent. Joe was recognized for decades for his tireless stewardship on many charitable boards, bringing the same qualities to those missions that he did to the firm. Loyal, diligent and caring, Joe was a real role model.”
Nancy Griffin, McGowan’s longtime legal assistant (retired): “Joe was a man of integrity and honesty, who did the very best for his clients. Working with Joe for 45 years, I can say he was kind, patient, and had a true impact on my life.”
David L. Posner, Of Counsel at McCabe and Mack LLP: “Joe always practiced law at the highest level with unparalleled dignity and grace. In the 40 years we were at McCabe and Mack together, I never once saw him ruffled or lose his composure or worse still, lose sight of the objective of the best result possible for the client. I believe the entire bar that crossed his path felt the same way.”
The Honorable Albert M. Rosenblatt, Of Counsel at McCabe and Mack LLP: “Having known him as a colleague and a friend for over 50 years, Joe was the embodiment of what the public, and the firm, want in the ideal lawyer: a perfect blend of wisdom, decency, knowledge, empathy, modesty, and integrity. No client community could have been better served than by Joe McGowan. (He was also a really nice guy.)”