It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our longtime employee and friend, Don Gow. Don’s commitment to CISM was without par. In his honor, we share this reflection by Donald Howell, our retired Executive Director.
ICISF lost a good friend of ours today!!!
ICISF just wanted to let you know we lost a good friend of ours today, Don Gow.
Don loved his God, his Country and his family (Jean, Sissy and Donnie). The rest of us fit in somewhere behind those three, and probably even behind his love for his dogs, Duncan and Pixie.
Don in the truest sense of the word, was a man’s man.
He exemplified the words Honor, Courage, Commitment and ‘Always Faithful.’ “OO-Rah” (USMC)
Fiercely loyal, truthful and a man of his word are several more traits that made up his character.
He had distinguished career with the United States Marine Corps.
For over 30 years he served with the Baltimore City Fire Department. Endless hours would be spent listening to him talk about ‘life in a big city far department.’
ICISF was most fortunate to have Mr. Don come on board with the Foundation, dedicating himself to the organization for over a decade. The mission of assisting those emergency services workers, and those in many other disciplines as well, in their time of need, was tailor-made for the man with a ‘heart’ of his size. It was his giving of himself so completely to ease the pain and anguish that endeared him to those he interacted with and made him the valuable asset he became to ICISF. He also was extremely knowledgeable about CISM resources and about experts throughout the field, as well as becoming the office’s AV and Logistical guru.
Another passion of Don’s came to light during the Christmas Holiday season. He would transform into S-A-N-T-A C-L-A-U-S along with Ms. Jean as Ms. C-L-A-U-S. (The reason I spelled out those words was just in case any children might read this.) We were never quite sure who got the most enjoyment during those times, the children or Mr. Don. Maybe it’s both, for Mr. Don was truly a ‘kid at heart.’
One of Don’s greatest passions was that of history, particularly the Civil War, and specifically Gettysburg. Don, Ken Bohn and I would talk for hours about those ‘hallowed grounds’ and those brave individuals who fought and lost their lives for their beliefs.
He made annual trips to Gettysburg to learn more about its history, staying in a period hotel near the center of town that reputedly had spirits roaming the halls. He had many encounters with the spirits both in the hotel and on the battlefield. He was quite serious about those visions, and we are certainly not going to doubt him.
When ICISF received word this morning that he had passed earlier today, our first reaction was, ‘it can’t be, let’s just give it another 24 hours.’ For you see, Don had cheated death many times before. We talked about that on several occasions as he wondered why he had been spared so many times and asked to stay on earth a little longer.
We like to think it was so he could ease the pain of a few more souls and reach out to be just one more person’s friend.
While we’re saddened by Mr. Don’s passing; that sadness wouldn’t begin to compare to how we would feel if we never had the privilege to know the man and not have been able to call him my friend.
So his greatest gift, was allowing me to call him FRIEND.
We are all truly blessed that the good Lord shared Don with us for those for all those years.
If any of you ever make it up to Gettysburg, take that stroll through the battlefields and around some of the historic buildings downtown, and if you have a sense that that you are being guided in a particular direction, maybe, just maybe, it may be Mr. Don reaching out yet again to you, one of his many friends to lend his helping hand.
Thank you Mr. Don, in our heart you shall remain forever.
Executive Director (retired)ICISF, Inc.