Gary Leland Cowger April 18, 1947 – February 17, 2023 Dallas, Texas – Gary Leland Cowger of Dallas, Texas passed away on Friday, February 17, 2023 in Plano, Texas. Gary will always be remembered by those who knew and loved him for his passionate and unwavering love for two things: his family and cars. Gary was born on April 18, 1947 to parents Glen Leland and Esther (Smith) Cowger in Kansas City, Kansas. He leveraged his love of the American automobile early in life to forge a successful career at General Motors that spanned more than five decades. Lui began his career in 1965 as a co-op student for the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) at the GM Assembly Division plant in Kansas City. From there, he rose rapidly through the ranks of the company and held roles of increasing responsibility that took him and his beloved wife, Kay, around the world. From 1979 to 1987, he held various plant management positions in Lansing MI, Wentzville MO and Lordstown OH. In 1994 he was named President and Chief Executive Officer of GM de Mexico. In 1998 he was appointed president and managing director of Adam Opel AG in Germany. Gary and Kay returned to the United States in 2000 when he was named Group Vice President of North American Manufacturing and Labor Relations. The following year, he was named President of GM North America and held that position until 2005, when he was appointed head of all GM manufacturing operations globally. Gary’s passion for automobiles was matched by his dedication to higher education and volunteerism. In addition to his Industrial Engineering degree from GMI in 1970, he also received a Master of Science from MIT in 1978 and honorary degrees from Lindenwood University in 2002 and Kettering University in 2007. He has also been elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2006. In addition, he has served on the boards of directors of Kettering University, the College for Creative Studies, Focus HOPE and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He is survived by his loving wife of 54 years and high school sweetheart, Kay Cowger of Dallas, Texas, his son Christopher Cowger of Austin, Texas and four grandchildren: Alex Narvaez of Forney, Texas, Sydney Narvaez of Dallas, Texas, Bretton Cowger of Austin , Texas and Bodhi Cowger of Austin, Texas. He was preceded in death by his daughter Melinda Narvaez of Dallas, Texas and grandson Mark Narvaez of Dallas, Texas. A memorial service will take place at 3:00 PM on Saturday, February 25, 2023 at the Sparkman Hillcrest Funeral Home in Dallas, TX with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society.
Published by the Kansas City Star on February 20, 2023.