Pat Cowan, longtime Tulsa historical tour guide, dies at 72
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Friday, November 02, 2012
11/02/12 at 4:41 AM
Just about everywhere she looked in downtown Tulsa, Pat Cowan found history.
It was overhead, in the architecture of many buildings. It was all around her in the historic houses of surrounding neighborhoods.
Sometimes it was right under her feet.
"If someone needed to go from one building to another, they could do so in a matter of minutes without having to worry about the weather," Cowan said of downtown's tunnel system as she led tour groups through it.
Built in the 1920s under the downtown streets, the tunnels, which connect many of the major buildings, had lain largely forgotten for years. But that was the kind of history Cowan liked best.
A longtime Tulsa teacher who started Bandana Tours and Events in 1987, Cowan liked teaching Tulsans facts about their history that they didn't know.
She operated her tour company for 14 years, leading various kinds of tours of Tulsa and the surrounding area. She was also a frequent guide for the Downtown Walking Club, focusing on historic sites in the downtown area.
Patricia Clark "Pat" Cowen died Oct. 26. She was 72. A memorial service was held Thursday at John Knox Presbyterian Church under the direction of Moore's Southlawn Funeral Home.
The focus of Cowan's tours could be just about anything. Once, she even organized a tour of Tulsa doorways.
"There are some very interesting ones in the downtown area," her husband, Ted Cowan, said. "She'd show the group a picture of a doorway, see if they could identify it, and then take them to see it."
A native of Great Bend, Kan., who grew up in Coffeyville, Kan., Cowan moved to Tulsa with her husband in the mid-1960s and taught special education for Tulsa Public Schools.
Cowan, who completed a master's degree at the University of Tulsa, was a member of Tulsa Global Alliance and often hosted many of TU's international students and other foreign visitors in her home.
Her tour company, which at one time employed seven or eight guides, specialized in tours of Tulsa, but she also took groups to Bartlesville and other areas.
Of all the tours she led in Tulsa, her husband said, the tunnels were probably the most popular.
"It was really interesting to people, especially when they learned that the old tunnels went past bank vaults," he said.
Cowan compiled a lot of the information she learned from her tour research into a book and presented it to the Tulsa Historical Society.
"I enjoy showing Tulsa people Tulsa," she once told the Tulsa World. "People who have lived in Tulsa all their life don't know how beautiful the architecture and buildings are, especially if they don't work downtown."
Cowan's survivors include her husband, Ted Cowan; three children, Drew Cowan, Elizabeth Gilbert and Matt Cowan; and three grandchildren.
Original Print Headline: Teacher loved being tour guide to Tulsa history
Tim Stanley 918-581-8385
Pat Cowan: She started Bandana Tours and Events in 1987 and liked teaching Tulsans facts about their history that they didn't know. She operated her tour company for 14 years, leading various kinds of tours of Tulsa and the surrounding area