William Alexander “Bill” Gowan, Jr.

William Alexander “Bill” Gowan, Jr.


Retired Circuit Judge William Alexander “Bill” Gowan, Jr. passed away in Madison, MS on December 20, 2023 following an accident.  He was 81 years old.  

Bill was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi to Mary and William A. Gowan, Sr. and grew up in Jackson.  After graduating from Murrah High School, he attended the University of Mississippi where he obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree and a law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law.  At Ole Miss, Bill was a member of Kappa Alpha Order.  

Bill began his career practicing law in the Jackson firm of Waller, Pritchard and Fox, the law firm of former Gov. William Waller, and then later moved into private practice.   Bill realized that he loved the courtroom early in his career and served as Assistant City Prosecutor in Jackson from 1978-1990, as City Prosecutor from 1991-1994, and then as Assistant City Attorney from 1994-1998.  He worked for the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office for over eleven years serving as in house counsel and Undersheriff.  Bill served twice by gubernatorial appointment to fill vacancies in the Hinds County Court, first in 2002 and again in 2006.  He also presided over the Hinds County Drug Court and was appointed as a special Circuit Judge by the Supreme Court from August 2008 through July 2010.  In 2010 he was elected to the Mississippi Seventh Judicial District Circuit Court where he served until his retirement in 2018.  

Bill married Shellee Susan Case on June 24, 1989, and they made their home in Jackson, MS.  Their marriage was a beautiful example of devotion, and he was blessed in finding a best friend and real true love in Shellee.  He glowed with happiness and felt a sense of completeness and fulfillment when by her side and was so grateful to her for strengthening his spiritual life by guiding him in his walk with Christ.  Bill and Shellee were active members of Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson, Mississippi and the John Case Growth Group at Christ United Methodist.

Bill was the epitome of the phrase “you have two ears and one mouth - so listen twice as much as you talk”.  He was an attentive listener and a very astute judge of character, a skill which served him well on the Court bench. He was devoted to his family and countless great friends, all of whom he loved dearly.  Some were fortunate to spend time with Bill in the outdoors hunting and fishing or just enjoying time away from the desk.  Many knew him from his original hunting camp on Kings Point Island “Old Bugle”.  The place was magical to many people, both young and old who all looked up to Bill.  He had many friends from years spent in other camps like Wilderness Forever and the “Kimbrough Place”, or over at Lake Chotard, Mathews Brake, Eagle Lake and countless other places.  It is unlikely that you could attend an outdoor event, DU banquet or similar gathering without someone knowing him and telling a funny story about their time spent with Bill.  He provided great life guidance and taught so many to respect our natural resources as well as etiquette in the woods.  Bill had a deep appreciation of his experience growing up close to his grandfather, Mr. Tom Wright, and spending time on the Wright's farm in Madison County Mississippi.

He often told stories about his group of high school friends and their adventures together.  Bill spoke of these young men who loved, supported, and helped raise each other with a smile on his face and usually with uncontrollable laughter.  He always considered them family.  Bill’s love of music began with Little Richard and Johnny Cash and ended with Outlaw Country. There was no need for any other genres to him and he recently got to attend a performance by one of his all-time favorites, Willie Nelson.  He enjoyed camping and canoeing with his family and friends along the Strong, Homochitto, Bogue Chitto, and Buffalo Rivers in Mississippi and Arkansas.  As a devoted father, Bill was always willing to jump in as the baseball coach, YMCA Indian Guides Chief or Indian Princesses Medicine Man.  He had a deep-rooted affinity for game days at Ole Miss in The Grove when you could haphazardly park under the trees for a proper tailgate and all you needed was a bucket of KFC, a Bloody Mary, or a good bourbon.  Bill had an appreciation and love of antique collecting, a passion for WWII and Civil War history, and giving detailed accounts of family heirlooms.  He passed on his sense of humor, dry wit, and the aptitude for being a model of transparency to his kids for which they both excel in.

Bill had a love for animals, especially German Shepherds who didn’t quite make the cut for law enforcement.  He developed a fondness later in life for cats as he loved their peculiar nature.  He leaves behind his much beloved cat “Oliver” and rescue coonhound "Tut” who both comforted him in his loneliness after his beloved Shellee passed away. They will be very well cared for. 

He is preceded in death by his wife Shellee Case Gowan, his parents Mary Wright Gowan and William Alexander Gowan, Sr., grandparents Thomas Excell and Mildred Croxdale Wright, Rose “Rosie” Harkins Gowan and Dr. William Alexander Gowan, his beloved sisters Rosemary Gowan Guglielmo and Ann Gowan Turnbow, Bill is survived by his daughter Lauren Gowan Dupre of Lafayette, LA, son William A. Gowan III and wife Nicci of Madison, MS,  sister in law Leah Case Jorgeson and her husband Jeff of Three Rivers, Oregon, grandchildren Rosemary Elizabeth Dupre of Washington, D.C., Alexander Raburn Dupre and Cornelia Fleur Dupre of Lafayette, LA, Brooks Alexander Gowan and Molly Kathryn Gowan of Denver, CO, Hayden Patricia Hauser of Madison, MS, nieces Elizabeth Guglielmo Picard (Tyron), nephews James Thomas Guglielmo (Regine), Marjorie Guglielmo Lacaillade (Peter), Guy N. Turnbow III, and Andrew Wright Gowan Turnbow, William Case Jorgeson (Cecilia), and Adam Charles Jorgeson.   

The family would like to thank Joann Steen and Ather West for their friendship, love, and deep devotion over many wonderful years.  

All services will be held at Parkway Funeral Home (1161 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland MS 39157) with Visitation from 5:00PM – 7:00PM on Tuesday December 26th and from 11:00AM until the time of Funeral Services at 1:00PM on December 27th. 

Memorial donations may be made in Bill’s memory to the American Cancer Society (https://donate.cancer.org) or the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (https://alzfdn.org/donate/).  He would wish that patients suffering from these diseases could benefit from your generosity.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy for the Gowan family may be expressed at www.parkwayfuneralhomeridgeland.com.

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