Stephen Gowe, assistant director of facilities operations at Binghamton University, passed away on Wednesday, September 16 after a four-year battle with cancer. He was 48 years old.
Gowe graduated from Vestal High School in 1985. He went on to graduate from Cornell University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science degree in landscape architecture. He began his employment at BU in February 2001 as grounds manager, later becoming the assistant director of physical facilities.
Gowe had a hand in numerous projects around BU, including the landscaping in front of both the Events Center and the East Gym. He was also involved in the design, construction and maintenance of the Memorial Courtyard in 2002 — a project that he was able to complete in less than two months, in time for alumni returning for homecoming a year after the 9/11 attacks. JoAnn Navarro, vice president for operations at BU, described Gowe as someone with a constant desire to get things done.
“Steve had great vision and passion,” Navarro wrote in an email. “He took great pride in the campus. He was one of the hardest workers that I ever met.”
Gowe was a lover of sports and he showed this love as a coach for the Vestal Youth Football League. Karen Fennie, Gowe’s coworker and the communications specialist for physical facilities, said she always thought Gowe approached the snow-removal process as a coach would approach a team, knowing how to get the most out of each worker’s abilities.
“The people who worked for him worked very hard for him because they had such respect for him,” Fennie said. “He would never ask any of his crew to do anything he wouldn’t do.”
According to Fennie, Gowe was always modest about his efforts, despite the work he and his team put in throughout the campus.
“He was one of the best people I’ve ever known,” Fennie said. “He was an unfailingly honest person.”
Gowe’s supervisor Michael Kukawa, director of operations and construction for physical facilities, described Gowe as the epitome of a dedicated worker. He said Gowe always managed to be prepared ahead of time.
“One of the comments he always made was, ‘If you have to call me, it’s already too late’,” Kukawa said. “He was always ready way before you asked him to do something.”
Though Gowe’s standard workweek was 40 hours, Gowe typically put in 60 to 80-hour weeks during snow season, according to Kukawa. One time, Kukawa asked Gowe how many extra hours he had put in, and his answer was about 6,000 hours.
“He’d be here in the evenings, he’d be here in the nights, he’d be here on weekends,” Kukawa said. “There’s no way we could be as we were. We are less of a department now that Steve is gone.”
Gowe is survived by his wife, Brenda Longstreet Gowe, his daughter, Erin Catherine Gowe and his stepson, Evan Longstreet McHugh.