Alex Kowbel passed away peacefully on Jan 20/2024 at the age of 101 at the Perley Health Centre, Ottawa, Ontario.
Alex was born October 6, 1922 and grew up in Melville, Saskatchewan, the fourth of seven children of Eastern European immigrants, Nick and Julia (Szaroz) Kowbel.
He is predeceased by his parents, his brothers Joseph, John, George and Edward, and his sister Victoria. He is survived by his sister Mary Dimen of Calgary, Alberta.
In 1948, Alex married Frances Emily Matthews of Barrie Ontario.
They had four children, James (Wendy), Thomas (Rosemary), David (Nelline) and Susan Andrew (Geoffrey). Tragically, Frances passed away in 1960 at the young age of 36, as a result of a brain tumor. She remained in his heart and thoughts for the rest of his life as he raised his young children as a single parent.
Alex is survived by his 4 children, 4 grandchildren, Nicholas Kowbel (Celine), Kevin Kowbel, Alexandra McAlister (Kevin) and Krystin Vienneau (Joe), 3 great grandchildren, Kaylee Kowbel, Corey Kowbel and Corbyn McAlister and many nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews and great grand nieces and nephews.
Alex enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1939 at age 17. He went overseas in 1942 and served in England and Europe, primarily with the 2nd Canadian Army Group Royal Artillery (2AGRA) where he became the Administrative Staff Sergeant. He landed in Normandy a few weeks after D Day in June 1944, and moved across Europe for the duration of the war before participating in the liberation of Holland in 1945.
Alex returned to Saskatchewan after the war to finish his high school education, obtaining his grade 11 and grade 12 diploma. He then attended the University of Saskatchewan and obtained both a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1948 and a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1949. In Alex's second year of university, he continued his military career and was accepted in the Canadian Officers Training Corps (COTC).
In 1949, he suffered a broken back as a result of a glider crash during a military training exercise while posted at CFB Rivers. He was hospitalized for several months and had a lower back bone fusion. Despite this, he pursued sports including tennis, curling and golf for many years.
Following completion of COTC and his university degrees, Alex was posted to Camp (CFB) Borden. He served in Korea and Japan during the Korean War as a personnel transport Staff Captain.
While in the military, Alex served primarily in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corp. (RCASC) at various Canadian Forces bases and Canadian Forces Headquarters in Ottawa in various senior administrative and logistics capacities. He retired in 1971 with the rank of Major.
In 2015, in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, he was awarded the Legion of Honour by the Government of France, at the level of Chevalier, in recognition of his service in France during World War II.
After retirement from the military in 1971, Alex joined the Federal Public Service and was part of the early growth of the Environmental Protection Service within the new Department of Environment. He retired in 1978.
Following retirement, Alex moved to Foymount Ontario where he enjoyed country living, gardening, golf, bridge, and visits from his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was an active member of the Eganville branch of The Royal Canadian Legion.
He spent many winters in Hawaii and continued to live in his condo on Oahu during the winter months until well into his 90s. He had many friends in Hawaii and enjoyed golf and playing bridge.
Following a fall in Foymount at the age of 96, Alex moved to long term care at the Perley Rideau Veterans Centre (Perley Health) in Ottawa, in 2019 . His family is very grateful for the care he received, with particular appreciation of the staff in Ottawa 2 East and Rideau 1 North, the Occupational Therapy and Recreational Therapy units, as well as the staff in the interprofessional clinic. The support provided by Veterans Affairs Canada is also acknowledged and appreciated.
Visitation will be held at the Beechwood National Memorial Centre, 280 Beechwood Avenue, Ottawa, on Friday, February 16th, 2024 at 12noon. A Funeral Service will be held in the Sacred Space at 1:00PM. Followed by an interment in the National Military Cemetery at Beechwood Cemetery and a reception.
Donations to the Perley Health Foundation (perleyhealthfoundation.ca) would be appreciated in lieu of flowers.
My condolences to Tom And Rosemary and family and to Tom’s siblings and family. I worked with Tom for many years and played many rounds of golf and the odd and even beverages. I heard many stories about Tom’s dad and how proud he was of what he had accomplished. I salute you Mr Kowbel for your years of service to protect our freedom and your contributions to person kind.
Nancy Matthews (sister to Frances Kowbel - Al’s wife)
My heart goes out to Al’s children and grand-chiildren. I knew Al for many years and I know he missed his wife. I visited him in Hawaii, many years ago, and we had a lot of laughs and reminisced the good times. Will miss you Al and many thanks for your service in the Army - Job Well Done. Nancy Matthews
Condolences to all the family. I became a friend of Alex around 2015 when I delivered him Meals on Wheels from the Eganville Seniors. I then started playing bridge with him at Seniors Centre and we formed a nice bond. I missed him when he went to Ottawa but did visit him several times, the last being in April 2023 just before I moved back to Ireland. He was a character, a legend, and always had a smile. Even at 100 he was sharp as a tack. While in his room at the Perley, I was admiring the photos and the painting of him in his soldiering years. I said out loud, "what a handsome lad you were...". Within seconds, I heard him say, "what do you mean WERE!!" And then he burst out laughing. Rest In Peace my friend.
Re: Alex Kowbel. Congratulations for your service in the Army. I know (within my heart) that you will be with Fran, who you loved very much. My heart goes out to your children and grandchildren. Sincerely, Nancy Matthews (Fran’s sister).
My deepest sympathy to the family on the loss of Alex. I have known Alex for the last 15 years and we always had good chats. I will miss you my friend.
Larry and Carol Dimen
Dear cousins and families , I would like to say I was always proud of my uncle Alex’s participation in ww2 and Korea . I remember your family’s summer visits to Melville in the 50’s , one time in particular with your dad’s “ woody wagon”where he attempted to teach mom to drive ( unsuccessfully) , with several of us kids in the back seat. We didn’t have a car so your dad must have had a big brother moment to try to teach her. Over the years your dad would be at many of the family functions so our family remained connected with him over the decades. R I P uncle Al
Marlene & Wayne Dimen
Uncle Alex lived every day to the fullest and his visits on the way home from Oahu were always a joy. he would often pause his trip home from Hawaii to Stop in Saskatoon and Regina to visit with friends and family. On his last visit he triggered a family celebration in his honour that brought generations on family, friends, and military colleagues together at the Eagles Service Club in Regina where he packed the club to capacity. He was loved and was truly a national treasure. He will be missed and always fondly remembered. Our Kindest thoughts are with uncle Alex's family at the loss of this remarkable man.
John Gould sr.
Condolences to the Kowbel families. My family and i always loved the visits and his sense of humor. His memories will always be cherished. Rest in peace.
I was honoured to know Mr. Kowbel as his audiologist at the Perley. He visited regularly for battery changes and to socialize, and everyone on our team looked forward to his visits. I loved hearing his stories, and he was always quick witted, laughing easily. He will be greatly missed, and I'm so glad I had the chance to work and laugh with him. I'm not supposed to have favourite patients, but he made that tough...
Norma ( Kowbel) Peter DWORKIS
Uncle Alex’s good sense of humor and spirit
Will always be remembered.
He made a point of attending important family gatherings over fifty years here with our family in California. He will be missed.