John and Elaine Cowan
John and Elaine Cowan fell in love with Montana while visiting friends in Polson. "I wanted Elaine to see this part of the country," John said. "We fell in love." When rainy weather hit the Flathead valley during a fishing trip in 1990 and denied them access to the outdoors, the Cowans started looking at real estate. They eventually purchased a home on Flathead Lake and moved to Montana permanently in 1997.
"What brought us here was the beauty and quality of life," John said. "Both of us were raised in small towns." The Cowans felt at home in Polson.
John and Elaine helped found the Greater Polson Community Foundation, which was established in December 2007 because of the efforts of lifelong friends of the Cowans, Chuck and Penny Jarecki. John and Chuck attended Hotchkiss School together, and later their friendship brought the Cowans to Polson. "We became interested in the Greater Polson Community Foundation through the Jareckis," John said. "Penny had done a little research and called us one day to broach the question of starting a community foundation. Elaine was always a better spokesman than I, so we decided that she would join the board and I would be office staff."
Due to the efforts of the Cowans, Jareckis, and other citizens of Polson, the Greater Polson Community Foundation grew quickly. Today, it has an endowment balance of more than $500,000. When Elaine passed away in 2009, John established a bequest to benefit the Greater Polson Community Foundation.
"We supported the Greater Polson Community Foundation with a bequest because it's a conduit for the changing needs of the community," John said. "Our thought was that if you give money to the community foundation, they could channel it to where the need is greatest as society changes."