GALVA – James I. “Jim” Cowley, 75, of Galva, died at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, July 23, 2022 in Davenport, IA.
Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m., Monday, September 19 at Rux Funeral Home in Galva. Visitation will be held from 2:00-5:00 p.m., Sunday, September 18 at the funeral home. Burial will be in the Galva Cemetery where military rites will be accorded by the Galva Fusiliers. Memorials may be directed to Galva American Legion Post #45.
He was born September 23, 1946 in Kewanee, the son of James Edward and Austa Carrie (Sellon) Cowley. Survivors include a sister, Janene (Steven) Felter of East Helena, MT and family and a niece, Denise (Doug) Kroeger of Davenport, IA and family. Also surviving are his dear cousins, Greg (Kathy) Fargher and Mark (Kris) Fargher, and their families. He was preceded in death by his parents and two sisters, Carol Jane and Marthanna.
Within his family, he loved many of his nieces, nephews, and cousins always keeping up with their lives and took every chance to share holidays with “the whole bunch” as time and weather would allow. He attended graduations and weddings, birthdays and parties. He travelled to Hawaii and joined his brother-in-law for a week’s long sail on the USS San Bernardino County to San Diego, CA. He went to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD to watch his nephew graduate and receive his Naval Commission. He travelled to Washington DC for Rolling Thunder with his niece eight times and four other times with friends. He went to reunions, and ball games and picnics and travelled down to Florida with cousins for some mid-winter sunshine. Last spring, he attended an elementary school breakfast in Long Grove, IA with his youngest nephew and proudly congratulated an older great nephew’s entrance into JROTC.
Jim served in the U.S. Air Force from 1964-68 obtaining the rank of Sergeant. He was a proud Veteran of Strategic Air Command and was stationed at Anderson AFB, Guam and Little Rock AFB, Arkansas. His military service would become a key guidepost for his life ahead. After his volunteer service, he returned home. Jim worked for many local and national companies in many occupations from mechanics to long-haul trucking. Jim was a proud farmer, by heritage, by birth, and most importantly, by choice. He remained proud and passionate of his farming roots until the end. In the fields, he spent years on the many farms of his life in and around Henry County: his parent’s places, his own farm north of Galva, and his dear cousins' farmlands as well.
His volunteer life was always busy and full. He was a volunteer fireman for the Galva Fire Department for 18 years. He was a 50 plus year member of Hagberg-Hamlin Post #45 of the American Legion serving as Post Commander three times. Jim was a Founding Member of the Post’s American Legion Riders chapter, a volunteer effort that changed his life. He was a member of Illinois Patriot Guard for over 15 years and the local Harley Owners Group (HOG) chapter as well.
His involvement in the American Legion Legacy Run cannot be understated. His white hair and “Silver Fox” moniker are legendary. He was a proud American Legion Rider and participated in numerous Legacy Runs and became the national Assistant Road Captain for many years. The Legacy Runs have raised millions of dollars and Jim was incredibly proud of this effort.
He met riders from Posts all over the United States and his safety-first attitude taught many to ride smart and ride safe. Jim Cowley was loved and respected by those he rode with and they were his treasured “ride family.”
Jim’s participation with Honor Flight is also well known. He was a Guardian (chaperone) for two Honor Flights and an honored Veteran on one as well. The need to celebrate our Veterans and raise funds for Honor Flights gave way to another passion – restoring antique farm tractors. He delighted in the search, the process, and the glory of restoring farm equipment to purpose. His tractors and his tractor-loving friends, many of whom are fellow veterans, also became a part of his trusted circle.
There are many stories to be told in the years ahead about the travels and adventures Jim had along his life’s journey. Trying to count the miles he travelled, in trucks, big rigs, or on his motorcycle, over the roads of his beloved country is truly impossible. It is an understatement that he also loved to strike up a conversation with a stranger, a business owner, an old buddy, friend, or co-worker. He always had a warm handshake and a friendly wave. He would join you for a cup of coffee or a cold beer. He was the one with advice or a recommendation, who knew someone or somewhere that could help whatever situation or problem. He always waved and addressed nearly everyone with a “Hey Bud” or “Hello Kiddo”.
He loved just being out there on the road, doing something, and going somewhere. His legacy remains in all of us: to get out there, to do something, to help someone and to go make memories.