Jim Cowan passed away peacefully on November 5, 2008 after a bout with cancer. Well-known and loved throughout the audio industry, the 52-year-old Cowan was a 20 year veteran of Neutrik USA, starting out as general manager, and then moving on to vice-president and becoming president of the company in 2000.
A lifelong resident of the Garden State, Cowan was born and raised in Kearny, New Jersey, later making his home in the township of Toms River, along the Jersey Shore. After receiving his BA degree at Ocean County College, followed by a BS degree in marketing and economics and an MBA at Monmouth University, Cowan worked at Texas Instruments, Panduit Corp., and Dialight-Kulka-Smith, but found his real niche when he joined Neutrik in 1987.
"Jim was a wonderful leader with just the right combination of business skills and personal qualities," said CEO of Neutrik AG Werner Bachman, Cowan's associate and friend for more than two decades. "But more than that, he was an industry icon and a genuinely caring person who touched everyone with his kindness. He was sincere, yet never took himself too seriously. No matter how busy Jim was he always made the time to talk to you, especially at trade shows. I know he will be sorely missed by an industry he so significantly impacted.”
The first employee of Neutrik USA, Cowan loved the pro audio industry. In a Mix interview, he talked about the satisfaction he felt from “meeting and having one-on-one conversations over the years with industry leaders and pioneers such as Hartley and Melia Peavey, Greg Mackie, Phil Hart, Charlie Wicks, and Michael Laiacona—to name just a few. I have been fortunate to have met some of the most talented artists, engineers, installers, and designers in the industry." Cowan recalled that one of his most rewarding accomplishments was getting Neutrik's Speakon connector accepted by manufacturers, users, and installers. "It was a big challenge for Neutrik to create something totally new and to get the industry to like it, believe in it and support it,” he said. But Cowan's persistence and hard work paid off, with Speakon now accepted as a worldwide industry standard.
Cowan was also a devoted father to his sons, participating in their track and soccer programs and coaching youth basketball and Little League baseball teams. He enjoyed traveling, was a serious wine enthusiast, and a proud member of the Red Sox Nation.
Jim Cowan is survived by his wife Catherine "Kate" Cowan, sons Daniel and Gregory, and his mother Adele of Toms River. A funeral is planned November 10, 2008, at St. Luke's Church in Toms River, New Jersey. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Ocean of Love, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children with cancer and their families.