Cover photo for The Rev. Dr. Kendall W. Cowing's Obituary
The Rev. Dr. Kendall W. Cowing Profile Photo
1928 The 2013

The Rev. Dr. Kendall W. Cowing

December 16, 1928 — February 4, 2013

Kendall Woodward Cowing was born December 16, 1928 to Elsie Viola (Woodward) and Earl Bixby Cowing. After marrying, they moved from New England to Roseville Michigan where Earl worked at Ford Motor Company and then at the Packard Motor Car Company. Raised in Roseville, Kendall, his brothers Donald and Joe and his mother, spent each summer in his mother's hometown of Dresden Mills, Maine surrounded by his mother's large extended family and playing with his cousins. Dresden remained his favorite place in the world. Kendall was an entrepreneur from an early age. He took pride in being able to pick and rake the most blueberries during the summer in Maine, and worked from the age of 12 at Detroit's Eastern Market - eventually owning two stalls while in college. He would have made it big selling antiques, but he only bought them... never sold. At the age of 16, he met Della Kay Van House at a joint meeting of the Roseville and East Detroit Methodist Youth Fellowship. Kendall always said it was "love at first sight" for him. They married 5 years later in 1950. She was the love of his life. In the meantime they both attended Wayne State University where Kendall was kept busy escorting Della to and from each class in order to discourage any other suitors. (Today we would call it stalking!) After graduating in 1950, Kendall and Della married, and set up housekeeping in Chicago while Kendall attended Garrett Theological seminary at North Western University. In 1951 while still attending Seminary, Kendall was appointed to two churches (Moore Street Methodist Church and Vandercook Lake Methodist Church) in Jackson Michigan. They also welcomed their first child, Kenneth Woodward. Kendall moved Della to the parsonage in Jackson and commuted to Chicago during the week for school, returning home on the weekends to preach a sermon in each church. Their first four children Kenneth, Deborah, Rebecca and Faith Ann were born in Jackson. Over the next 6 years, Kendall led the effort to join the two congregations and raise funds to build a brand new church, an extraordinary accomplishment for a young minister. In 1959 he received an appointment as Minister of Education to First Methodist Church in Ann Arbor Michigan. It was here that Kendall experienced his most productive and fulfilling years, and where his youngest two children, Heidi and Jennifer, were born. (In 1959, Kendall was recognized by the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce as their "Man of the Year" for his work to ban alcohol sales near churches and schools.) As the Minister of Christian education at First Church, Kendall built a nationally recognized Methodist Youth Fellowship program, recruiting and training scores of young adult volunteer counselors to serve as mentors and role models for the youth. Through the turbulent 1960's and early 1970's many controversial subjects were examined in the MYF meetings in the context of social responsibility, human rights, and personal integrity. Youth service projects (the "summer trip") included trips to inner cities Detroit, Chicago, New York, Washington DC, Colorado, Mexico and the Blackfoot Indian Reservation in Montana. The success and dynamism of Kendall's youth fellowship programs became so renown, that a documentary film-maker approached Kendall to create a documentary film of the 1966 Senior High Youth Group - "Deeper Root")) As a result of his involvement in the lives of the youth of the Church, Kendall had the honor of performing numerous weddings (and later baptisms) for his young flock. This was a source of joy and deep satisfaction to him. During the late 1950's Kendall began participating in the burgeoning field of "Laboratory Education" that eventually became the "T-Groups" of the Human Potential Movement in the 1960's. Kendall participated in and later became a leader of experimental sessions focused on observing and learning about group dynamics, group process, personal growth, and team / organizational development. Increasingly Kendall became a recognized expert and trainer - staffing sessions at the National Training Laboratory's (NTL) programs at Bethel, Maine - and served on the staff of Ron Lippitt's graduate courses in Planned Change at the Institute for Social Research (ISR) at the University of Michigan. During the mid 1960's, Kendall and Della both developed skills at working with groups and organizations that wanted to become more humanistic and high performing. They worked closely with Ron and Peggy Lippitt - at NTL, ISR, and other sponsoring programs. Eventually, these four founded "Human Resource Development Associates of Ann Arbor" (HRDA) in 1968. In 1972 Kendall received an Honorary PhD (Doctor of Divinity) from Adrian College, in recognition for his many years and endeavors to improve society. In 1973 Kendall received the appointment of "Minister to Society" and left employment at First United Methodist Church to become a full-time entrepreneur at their consulting firm "Human Resource Development Associates" or HRDA. This led him to work with many large businesses both in the USA and abroad, as well as many non-profit organizations such as the Lisle Fellowship, and Blue Mountain Meditation Center. (During the 1970's Kendall and Della both became certified in Transactional Analysis. Della became a certified "Teaching Fellow" by the International Transactional Analysis Society. Kendall and Della both obtained their State of Michigan license's to practice Social Work, and ran TA groups in their basement training room. In 1983, with business booming, Kendall and Della relocated to Davidson, NC where they lived on Lake Norman for 15 years before moving into Charlotte to live in the Aldersgate retirement community. Kendall made many new friends and reconnected with old friends in North Carolina, becoming involved in the Church in Charlotte and Davidson and serving as a counselor in the MYF program there, where the kids all called him Grandpa! In 2008, Kendall celebrated his 80th birthday and received and outpouring of cards, letters, and emails. It is impossible to overstate how much he enjoyed these communications and how touched and tickled he was to receive them. Thanks to all those who sent their greetings! They were much appreciated! Throughout his life Kendall's greatest joy was in interacting with people - keeping in touch with old friends and family and making new friends. Everywhere he went, all over the world, he would run into people he knew. When you went somewhere with Kendall, you had to allow extra time for these spontaneous visits. He was an extraordinary person who made a huge impact on the world and all those he came in contact with. Kendall was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Donald Cowing, and daughter Faith Ann Cowing. He is survived by his beloved wife Della Cowing of Charlotte, loving and loved brother Joe Cowing of Dresden, Maine (wife Donna), son Kenneth Cowing of Ann Arbor, MI (wife Denise Wilson, children Alexa and Spike), daughter Deborah Cowing of Ann Arbor, MI (son Jonathan Garter), daughter Rebecca Doss of Huntersville, N.C. (husband Brian, children Andrew and Jeremy Doss, Araceli, Nina, Eli, Antonio, David, Cande, Consuelo, Veronica and Sebastian Turrubiartes), daughter Heidi Herrell of Ann Arbor, MI (husband Steve) and daughter Jennifer Lieber of New York, N.Y. (husband Ronald, daughter Mara, and son Max ). * In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that memorial contributions in his name be made to Levine & Dickson Hospice House. Please refer to the column in the upper left of this obituary and select "Place A Donation" for further information. -

Service Information

Saturday, April 6th, 2013 1:00pm, First United Methodist Church

Interment Details

Pine Grove Cemetery

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of The Rev. Dr. Kendall W. Cowing, please visit our flower store.


Visits: 4

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree