Officer recalls working under former chief Virgil Cowin

Funeral for Cowin set for 2 p.m. Friday

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Virgil and Shirley Cowin are pictured at a combination New Year's Eve and birthday party for Virgil Cowin at the Law Enforcement Center on Dec. 31, 2008.

Working as a police officer under Brownwood Police Chief Virgil Cowin was like working for family, police Lt. Troy Carroll recalled.

Cowin, who retired as police chief in 2010, died Tuesday morning at age 84. Cowin’s law enforcement career spanned 50 years, and he was the last elected chief of the Brownwood Police Department. Brownwood police chiefs are now appointed.

Cowin’s funeral will be at 2 p.m. Friday at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church under the direction of Blaylock Funeral Home. He will be buried with military honors at Eastlawn Memorial Park.

“I’ve known him all my life, pretty much,” Carroll said. “Working under Virgil Cowin was like working for family to me. He treated me like I was family the whole time that he was my boss. I really enjoyed working for him.

“I felt he was an excellent chief. He was a person that cared that cared about his employees and cared about the department, the city of Brownwood as a whole, and wanted what was best for the department. He was a good leader for the department. He held the officers accountable for their actions.” 

Carroll said he visited with Cowin last Friday in the south Brownwood home where Cowin lived with his wife, Shirley.

Cowin, a four-year Navy veteran, began work in law enforcement in 1960 with the Brownwood Police Department, working first as a patrolman and later as a detective.

After six years with the Brownwood department, Cowin joined the Brown County Sheriff’s Office and worked as chief deputy. After a year, he went to work as a detective for the Santa Fe Railroad, a job he held for 28 years.

Cowin was elected to what then a two-year term as Brownwood police chief in 1996. The term was expanded to four years, and Cowin won re-elections in 1998, 2002 and 2006.

Voters decided in a 2008 referendum that the police chief’s job would be appointed rather than elected after Cowin’s term ended in 2010.

“I think we all have feelings about leaving a job we’ve done for 50 years,” Cowin said at his retirement reception in March 2010.  “It’s not easy, but I think it’s time. I do want to thank the voters in Brownwood, Texas, for the trust they had in me and for electing me four times.

“It is with regret that I’m leaving but I think it’s time. I tried to do the very best I could to make them a good chief and I have no regrets about the time that I served.”