New Mass. senator’s mom rehabs in Salisbury

  • Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 1:15 a.m.
Cynthia Cowan
Cynthia Cowan

Cynthia Cowan recently spent a few weeks at Trinity Oaks getting rehabilitation services after a knee replacement surgery by  Dr. James Comadoll. When she told the Trinity Oaks staff she wanted to check out yesterday, a day earlier than scheduled, they asked her why.

She had a pretty good reason, they discovered.


On Thursday in Washington, DC, her son, William “Mo” Cowan, will be sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden as the interim senator from Massachusetts – and Cynthia Cowan  plans to be there.  Appointed by  Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, for whom he was chief of staff, William Cowan will serve for five months until a special election is held June 25 to fill the seat left vacant by John Kerry, who was recently confirmed as the new secretary of state. Cowan will be the eighth African-American senator in history and the second from Massachusetts. Edward Brooke, a Republican, served from 1967-1979.

William Cowan grew up in Yadkin County with his parents and sisters, Valerie and Felicia. In 1985, when William was only 16, his father was killed in an automobile accident. Cynthia Cowan, a seamstress at Indera Mills, was left to raise William and his sisters on her own.

It was a tough time. “Together, we got through it,” she said. “You just trust in God. He’s always there.”

Cynthia Cowan always expected the best from her children, she said, and that’s what she got. After graduating from Forbush High School in East Bend, William Cowan continued his education at Duke University and then went on to law school at Northeastern University in Boston. He became a prominent name in Boston legal circles, eventually becoming a partner in the Mintz Levin law firm.

At a press conference last Thursday, William Cowan spoke of confidence instilled in him as a boy: “My mother told me days like today were possible.”

As she prepared to leave Trinity Oaks yesterday, Cynthia Cowan  summed up the worldview she worked hard to give her children. “Anything you want, you can achieve it if you work hard,” she said. “You can be what you want. Just be honest and fair.”  

As a boy, her son was always inquisitive and soaked up whatever he could, Cowan said. “They used to call him ‘professor,’” she recalls. “He was a great student. He’d listen, ask questions, and if he couldn’t find the answer, he’d always dig for it.”

Although she’s not one to wear it on her sleeve, Cowan is deeply proud of all her son has accomplished, and she knows he will approach this new challenge as he’s always approached his life.

“He’s humbled by it,” she said. “He’s willing to take it on and do the best job for the people of Massachusetts. He puts his all in whatever’s he’s doing.”

Katie Scarvey is a communications specialist for Lutheran Services Carolinas.

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