Patricia's Story

Portland - Patricia (Pat) D. McGowan died October 9, 2016, at home from complications of COPD. She was born July 22, 1931, on the family farm on the Lake Road in Monticello, Maine, the daughter of Elbridge and Dorothy (Hanning) Delong. She was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, great grandmother, mentor and friend.
Pat grew up on the farm the second oldest of what would become eight children. It was an active place during the Great Depression and World War II, where she developed her life-long love for the outdoors, gardening and reading. Also during these hard years, her family took in many "throw away boys" and young men to live and work on the farm. They often became part of the extended Delong family. She attended public school in Monticello and her family later moved to Houlton, in part so she could attend Houlton High School.
After graduation Pat worked as an operator for New England Telephone Company. In 1952 she met and then married Alfred C. "Mac" McGowan, an installer/repairman who was a widower with a young son, Stephen. As Mac built his career at New England Telephone, the growing family moved from Presque Isle to Waterville, to Houlton, to Portland, to Calais, to Ellsworth, to Bangor and then back to Portland. Pat later moved to Scarborough and in 2015 to 75 State Street in Portland.
Pat's family, both biological and chosen, was the center of her life. She, like her husband, valued common sense, respect for all individuals and taught by example. The lessons were simple - an appreciation of the natural world, a recognition of the potential in all people, the value of good friends for both the good and hard times, and the importance of humor. She cared deeply for the people in her life and "collected" a diverse and loyal set of friends from many different walks of life. Pat balanced toughness and compassion and seldom was indifferent. She was a role model and mentor for many young people, those who shared her interests and those in transition.
Pat's love of birds started when a cardinal caught her eye and birding gave her decades of pleasure, adventures and friendships. She was happiest when traveling the back roads, checking the marshes, staying out with the full moon and taking part in the annual Christmas bird count - all with a thermos, her Peterson guide and good friends. She was active with the Margaret Stanwood Bird Sanctuary in Ellsworth, a member of the Bangor Bird Club, a founding member of the Penobscot Valley Chapter of the Audubon Society and a member and volunteer trip leader of the Maine Audubon Society. Pat's life list included birds from New England, the Maritimes, Michigan, Ontario, the southwest, and Australia. Long before the Internet, Pat's birding phone tree would almost immediately alert her once a bird was sighted anywhere within 300 miles.
When Pat began to lose her vision to macular degeneration, she was asked if it bothered her that she could not bird as well. Her response was that she could not see as much as she used to, but she appreciated more what she could see. Classic Pat. When she began having difficulty reading, she discovered recorded books with the help of the Scarborough Library staff and later greatly appreciated the services for the sight impaired from the Maine State Library.
Mac, the love of Pat's life, died too young in 1979, as did Steve in 1990. Pat was also predeceased by her parents, sister Joy Keough, and brothers Vincent (Buddy), Walter and Leon Delong, as well as many close friends including Jean Heath, Sally Delong and Gail Bailey. Pat is survived by her daughter Karla McGowan of South Portland and sons James (Jeanne) of Bath and David (Delia) of Portland, grandson Sean (Andrea) McGowan and great grandson, Eamonn, of Denver, CO. Her surviving family include brothers Alvin (Delores) of Roanoke, VA and Gary Delong, of Derry, NH, sister Candace (John) Muehleisen of Cumberland, sister-in-laws Evelyn Delong of Littleton and Jeanette Delong of Monticello, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and special friends.
Pat and her family are extremely thankful for the support and care that she received from the staff at 75 State Street and Hospice of Southern Maine. We also are appreciative for the lifetime of family and friends who contributed to such a good life.
A remembrance will be held at 75 State Street on October 15 at 9 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hospice of Southern Maine, 180 US-1 #1, Scarborough, Maine 04074, the Salvation Army 297 Cumberland Ave Portland, Maine 04101, or to a charity of choice. Pat will be best remembered when we follow the flight of a bird, read a good book, reach out to someone having a tough run and then share the good times and a laugh on the other end. To share memories and condolences with the family, please go to
Per her wishes, Pat was cremated and her ashes will be spread on the Atlantic so she can be the first to see what's flying. Once again, Pat has gone birding.
Published in Bangor Daily News
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