Philanthropist, developer James Cowart remembered



NORTH FULTON – James H. (Jim) Cowart, born Sept. 22, 1931, passed away at his home on Aug. 15, 2014.

Jim Cowart was a renowned Atlanta real estate developer. Jim was a native Atlantan and one of 11 children of Benjamin and Julia Cowart. After finishing high school and serving in the Air Force during the Korean Conflict, he attended Southern Tech earning a degree in Building Construction.

Jim’s career spanned over 50 years beginning in 1958 with the forming of Jim Cowart Inc. which was the start of many residential communities. His commercial development began with assembling 91 acres on I-285 which is now known as Perimeter Center and marked the beginning of Perimeter Mall. This transaction began the business corridor of North Atlanta. Most people do not know that Jim donated the profits from the Perimeter Center transaction to 38 area churches. Jim devoted most of his business expertise in North Fulton and Gwinnett County.

North of the Chattahoochee, he developed Royal 400 for more Class A development which would later become North Point Parkway. Jim was best known for developing and marketing the most successful residential luxury communities in North Atlanta. Jim’s constant and unwavering support of the building industry was rewarded when he received the 1987 Lewis Cenker Award presented by the Atlanta Home Builders Association, the highest honor given by the organization for lifelong contribution to the home building industry.

Jim had been recognized and heralded in many other ways including the Jack Sawyer Citizen of the Year Award from Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, the Button Gwinnett Tribute from the Council for Quality Growth, the Scott Hudgens “Good and Faithful Servant Award,” from the Peachtree Christian Hospice, the Regional Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America, and Man of the Year Award from the YMCA. In 2013 Jim was awarded from the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce the Zach Henderson Citizen of the Year Award for his 50 plus years of service to the community and for his contributions which helped shape North Fulton into the thriving community that we know today.

As stated by NFCC and CEO Brandon Beach “everywhere you look in North Fulton you will find Jim Cowart’s fingerprints.”

There was a lot to this man called Jim Cowart. He was a giant of a man in his quiet and humble manner. His insight and his tremendous generosity have touched many facets of the Atlanta community including Peachtree Christian Hospice and Atlanta Metro YMCA, with the Dunwoody Y being named “The Cowart Family YMCA.” A longtime supporter of Mercer University and Life Trustee to the Mercer Board, Mercer University Chancellor Kirby Godsey said, “Mercer University would not have an Atlanta Campus today without Jim Cowart’s help.” Bill Underwood, President of Mercer University, said of Jim, “He was such an important part of the heritage of Mercer University.”

To say that Jim will be sorely missed will be an understatement.

Jim is survived by his loving wife, Linda, sons Dan Cowart (Kris), David Cowart (Britt), Ben Cowart, daughter Cindy Burch (Bruce), stepdaughter, Michelle McKinnon (Shawn), 20 grandchildren whom he showered with love and affection, five sisters and a brother and many cousins and friends. Visitation was Monday, Aug. 18 at Roswell Funeral Home, 950 Mansell Road, Roswell. A Celebration of Life was held Tuesday, Aug. 19, at Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church, 2850 Old Alabama Road, Johns Creek. The family request in lieu of flowers donations may be made to Mt. Pisgah Christian School, Johns Creek, Ga.; Peachtree Christian Hospice, Duluth, Ga. and Eagle Ranch, Chestnut Mountain, Ga.


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