Aurora Mourns Loss of Groundbreaking East School Board Member Henry Cowherd

Aurora Mourns Loss of Groundbreaking East School Board Member Henry Cowherd

Henry and Carolyn Cowherd with former Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner.

The Kane County community is mourning the death of Henry Cowherd, a man whose name is synonymous with quality education in Aurora.

Cowherd’s legacy is immense, from the middle school that bears his name to the Henry Cowherd Scholarship provided to college-bound students each year to his groundbreaking leadership as the first African-American on the East Aurora Board of Education.

Henry Cowherd, 1924-2017

Cowherd died today (Wednesday, July 12, 2017) at the age of 93. Funeral arrangements are pending as of this post.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said Cowherd’s legacy is intertwined in the countless lives he impacted during his long life.

“He was not only a barrier breaker, he was also a bridge builder,” Irvin said in a statement released this afternoon. “For decades, Mr. Cowherd worked to bring people together and to form lifelong bonds. He loved Aurora and, of course, had a special place for East Aurora in his heart. He was a Tomcat tried and true.”

Cowherd was born on May 19, 1924, in Indianapolis, IN. He was raised on the East Side of Aurora. In 1945, he graduated from East Aurora High School, where he was a member of Student Council, Boys Club, Hi-Y Club and was a three-sport athlete.

After graduating from East Aurora High School, he worked at Burgess Norton Manufacturing in Geneva for 34 years and remained active in East Aurora schools during that time. He was a member of the East Aurora Dad’s Club, East Aurora Parent’s Association, East Aurora Sports Boosters, Aurora East Educational Foundation and the East Aurora Old Timers Association.

He has served on the Aurora Human Right Commission, Rush-Copley Board of Directors, Aurora Area CrimeStoppers board of directors, Kiwanis Club, Upstate Eight Conference officials and other community organizations. Until his recent death, he was a fixture at East Aurora events, regularly attending ceremonies, meetings and sporting events.

In 1991, the District 131 Board of Education unanimously voted to name the district’s third middle Henry Cowherd Middle School, and the school was dedicated in his honor on Oct. 4, 1992.

Cowherd and his wife, Caroline, were married for 68 years. They have three children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

In 2015, the Cowherds served as grand marshals of Aurora’s Fourth of July parade.

“We bid farewell to a local legend and thank him for making our community a better place,” Irvin said. “Godspeed, Mr. Henry Cowherd.”

SOURCE: city of Aurora news release, East Aurora School District 131