He also loved playing tennis and enjoyed snow skiing.
Dixie Lumber was founded in 1913 and was later purchased by his father and partners. It later merged with Airline Lumber to become what it is known today as Dixieline Lumber Company. Bill had been with Dixieline since 1954 and succeeded his father as President and CEO in 1970. Under his leadership, Dixieline had grown to become the 38th largest distributor of building materials in the United States.
The Cowling family sold Dixieline Lumber to Weyerhaeuser in 1979. Fifteen years later, in 1994, the family regained control of the company.
In 2003, the 90-year old lumberyard chain was sold to Lanoga Corporation. By then, it had grown to a company with 10 locations serving most of Southern California including a truss and component plant, a lumber distribution facility and a lumber shipping facility on the Columbia River in Oregon. He stayed on as a consultant for 5 years, in which the company later became part of ProBuild.
Bill had a long and noteworthy career at Dixieline and retired at the age of 80.
An unforgettable character, describes many individuals first impression of Bill. He was charming, funny, mischievous, astute, visionary, caring, loving, loyal but within the essence of his attributes was his true self. This was most apparent when he discussed his family, revealing powerful emotions of love and commitment. His friends, business peers, employees, suppliers, customers, competitors and acquaintances, from the highest levels to everyday folks, identified closely with him. He was known to most people as simply "Cowling." Bill was also a man of many talents.
He graduated from the San Diego Regional Police Academy at the age of 50 and worked for 6 years as a reserve officer for the San Diego Police Department. He then transferred in 1985 to the San Diego Sheriff's Department, where he retired as an Honorary Captain.
The Cowling family contributed a new fixed-wing airplane to the SDPD, bomb trailer and SWAT van to the SD Sheriff's Department. In addition, he helped raise money for a Sheriff's helicopter. Bill was instrumental in the development and construction of "Duffy Town" for simulated, urban law en-forcement training exercises at the Miramar Tactical Training Facility.
Professional activities include serving as past President of San Diego Lumber Association, Area Director and past President of Southern California Lumber Association and past Director of San Diego County Building Contractors Association. Civic activities include serving as past President of the Honorary Deputy Sheriffs Association, 20/30 Club, San Diego Epilepsy Society, Propeller Club of the US Port of San Diego and the San Diego Crime Commission. He has served as past Director of the San Diego Boys Club, John Davis YMCA, Director of the 1984 U.S. Summer Olympic Wrestling Team, Young Presidents Organization International and the International Affairs Committee for the City of San Diego.
Bill was also a genorous contributor to the Parkinson's Association of San Diego, San Diego State Athletic Program, he sponsored over 50 various community athletic programs and donated the Cowling Movement Disorders Clinic in the Division of Neurology at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla.
Bill is survived by Ovie, his loving wife of 47 years and will be deeply missed by his children Debbie of Scottsdale, AZ, Bill III (Liz), Scott, Craig (Kristina), Lance (Shelby), Derek (Kat), Christy (John - Fiance) and 12 beautiful grandchildren. The celebration of Bill's life and Memorial Service will be on Monday, December 13th, at 11:30 a.m. at St. Therese of Carmel Parish, 4355 Del Mar Trails Road, San Diego, CA 92130.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate memorial contributions to the Parkinson's Association of San Diego, 8555 Aero Drive #308, San Diego, CA 92123-1745.