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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Deirdre Sabine McGowan, PhD, 80

Deirdre Sabine McGowan, PhD, died on May 23, 2023, surrounded by her three loving children at the age of 80. Deirdre, the oldest of three siblings, was born to Dr. Herbert Charles and Mulaika Barclay Corben on October 21, 1942, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The Corben family moved to the United States in 1945 for Bert to pursue his academic career in Physics, which took his family around the world while Deirdre was growing up. Deirdre was conversant in both Spanish and Italian and always enjoyed international travel, including frequent trips to Italy.

At age 16, Deirdre enrolled at the Mississippi State College for Women in Columbus, Mississippi, and then continued her education at Mississippi State University, graduating with high honors with multiple degrees including Philosophy and Animal Husbandry. She met and married John Shaw Sabine IV and had a son John in 1965. Captain Sabine was killed in action in 1966, and she quickly became active in the Gold Star Wives. Thereafter, Deirdre and young John moved to Birmingham, Alabama to complete her masters and doctorate in administration. She met John DeGroote and had Jessica in 1973 in Birmingham and Jerusha in 1976 in Pascagoula, where the family lived until moving to their farm in Hurley, Mississippi, where they raised world class Arabian horses.

In time, she reconnected with Col. Robert S. McGowan and the two married and moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where they involved themselves in numerous charitable organizations, including Grace House. Deirdre worked as the Director of the International Inland Rivers Ports and Terminals Association, the Director for the Mississippi Water Resources Association, and as a board member for the New Orleans Board of Trade among many other roles. Deirdre retired to Bay St. Louis prior to hurricane Katrina and relocated to Jackson afterwards and continued to spend time in Bay St. Louis until later in life.

Deirdre’s last years were filled with leading in-depth poetry and Bible study classes as well as organizing movie nights for her friends and fellow residents in her assisted living facility in Ridgeland, Mississippi. Deirdre proudly served as the president of her residents’ council.

If you knew Deirdre, you know that she was extremely gifted intellectually, charming, and beautiful, with a wicked sense of humor – all paired with an inquisitive nature and unwavering resilience that made her who she was. Deirdre’s sheer force of will and determination helped her children to excel both academically and professionally.

Deirdre is preceded in death by both of her parents, her sister Sharon, two husbands and many beloved dogs including Nessie, Ozzie and Gibby plus one special Arabian horse, Tralasa. She is survived by her brother Gregory Corben of Ukiah, California, and loving family: son John (Hillary) DeGroote and grandsons Jack, Luke and Max of Dallas, Texas, daughter Jessica (John) Spencer and granddaughter Sloan of Wilmington, North Carolina, and daughter Jerusha Stephens and granddaughters Delia and Lucinda of Jackson, Mississippi.

Final arrangements are incomplete at this time but memorials may be made to: St. James Episcopal Church, 3921 Oakridge Drive, Jackson, Mississippi 39216. Deirdre will be inurned at Arlington National Cemetery.

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