The Thomas F. Cowan Memorial Scholarship Fund was created by friends and family of Thomas Cowan to provide scholarship support to a Ritchie County High School graduating senior athlete. To be eligible for the scholarship, recipients must be a current resident of Ritchie County, must have a minimum 3.25 GPA, and must have participated in high school athletics for four years and have received an athletic letter for at least three of the four years.
Thomas Cowan graduated from Harrisville High School in 1974, where he was an outstanding athlete. He was a four-year letterman in football, basketball, and baseball. As a quarterback, he led Harrisville to the Class A State playoffs in 1972. He was an outstanding basketball rebounder and a baseball pitcher and shortstop. Tom graduated from Glenville State College in 1978. He played football at Glenville, where he was a quarterback and defensive back and a three-year letterman. At Glenville, Tom was an education major, and he developed a love for the vocation. After graduating from Glenville, Tom returned to Ritchie County to be a teacher and had a 28-year career as an educator, coach, and principal first at Harrisville High School and later at Ritchie County Middle/High School. Tom also earned a graduate degree in administrative education from West Virginia University in 1990. Tom was the coach of the first girls' basketball team from Ritchie County High School to make an appearance in the state high school tournament. Tom also volunteered as a coach for Ritchie County Little League and Ritchie County Mini Basketball League. He was inducted into the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and was named Harrisville High School Alumnus of the Year in 2009.
According to his family, Tom never did anything half-hearted. Regardless of whether he was teaching or coaching, he was dedicated to the task. Over the years, he influenced many students and faculty. He treated all with respect and cared for them as peers and friends. He was known as being a champion for students, and he often provided the financial means for students to attend extracurricular activities and college classes.
In 2002, Tom was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. According to his family, he battled the disease with the same intensity with which he competed in life. When he coached a high school boys basketball game six days after major brain surgery, his neurosurgery team was amazed. After being diagnosed, he often would be heard saying "no one said life would be fair or easy" and "you play the card you are dealt and move on." Regardless of his health challenges, Tom did not quit life. He continued to volunteer and give back to his community. Tom lost his nine-year battle with brain cancer on January 5, 2012. Tom is survived by his wife Theresa; sons, Andrew and Ashley; and several grandchildren.