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Steelworker dies of lung cancer

Thu., Sept. 2, 2004

Kevin Cowell, the strapping Steelworker who fought a two-year battle against lung cancer, has died.

Cowell, 42, died early Tuesday morning at his home in Mead, said his mother, Grace Cowell.

“He was brave up to the end,” she said.

Cowell worked for 13 years at Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Co.’s huge furnaces at the Trentwood rolling mill, where he said he sometimes inhaled toxic fumes.

After retiring on a medical disability in January, he was among thousands of retirees who lost their medical and life insurance in May in the company’s ongoing bankruptcy reorganization.

The Spokesman-Review wrote of the family’s plight in a July 25 story, and the community response was swift. Kaiser Steelworkers from Local 338 passed the hat several times at Trentwood.

Family friends held carwashes and staged a fireworks show at Riverfront Park on Aug. 20.

The Cowells’ church, the Rock of Ages Christian Fellowship, set up a trust account at Farmers & Merchants Bank.

Cowell’s wife, Sharon, a substitute teacher in the Mead School District, still hasn’t found a full-time job with benefits and the community support has been gratifying, said Laura Vaughan, a family friend.

“The community has been very generous. We’ll miss him terribly,” Vaughan said.

In addition to his wife, Cowell is survived by his children, CJ, Kira and Kaitlin; his parents, Grace and Harry Cowell, of Colbert; and sisters Kari Rydholm and Kristen Conroy, of Spokane.

The family is planning a memorial service Saturday at the Rock of Ages Christian Fellowship, but the time hasn’t been determined, Sharon Cowell said.


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