Donald George Cowdrey, 73 of Everett, Wash., passed away unexpectedly at his residence on Thursday, October 29, 2020.
Don was born in Yakima, Wash., January 6, 1947, to Walter and Catherine Moore Cowdrey. He was the middle child of three brothers and grew up surrounded by his many cousins, aunts and uncles in central Oregon and Yakima. Don cherished these close family ties throughout his life.
Don attended Eisenhower High School in Yakima, Wash., where he was an officer in the National Honor Society and competed in the local YMCA swim team. Always a hard worker, Don roofed homes during high school and helped harvest fruits on his uncle's orchard in the summers. He graduated with honors in 1965. Don enrolled in the University of Washington and funded his own studies by roofing many homes in the Seattle area. Following graduation, Don began a teaching career at Odle Middle School in Bellevue, Wash., focusing on language arts and photography.
In pursuit of a more physically active career, Don left teaching after a few years and spent the next 40 years as a firefighter/engineer for the City of Bellevue. He was passionate about his career and made many lifelong friends during his time at Bellevue Fire Department. He was also very active in the union and utilized his writing and research skills to advocate for protective labor rights for his fellow firefighters.
Having completed his first year of teaching, Don met his future wife, Paula Rey, on a summer backpacking trip on the Olympic Peninsula. They married in 1971 and spent their lives building a loving home and family, with many wonderful memories along the way. Don and Paula had two daughters, Rae Niculescu and Bree Cowdrey. Rae and Bree meant everything to Don, and he always put his children first.
Don was truly a one-of-a-kind man: driven and strong, but also compassionate, loving, and kind. He was always quick to help a friend in need or offer thoughtful advice when it was requested, and he always endeavored to ensure everyone's safety at all times. He will be deeply missed by all those who loved him for his sage advice, dry wit, and compassion.
Don is preceded in death by his father, Walter Cowdrey, and his beloved mother, Catherine; as well as his eldest brother, John. He is survived by his youngest brother David, his wife of 49 years Paula Rey, his daughters Rae Niculescu and Bree Cowdrey, as well as his grandchildren Emma and Silvia Niculescu and Cody and Evelyn Ketter.