John Cowley, Founder of Popular Downtown Farmington Pub, Dies Friday

The 91-year-old family patriarch established Cowley's Old Village Inn, known today as John Cowley & Sons, in 1972.

John Cowley, founder of John Cowley & Sons pub in downtown Farmington, died at his home Friday morning. He was 91. 

With his wife, Marie, he established Cowley's Old Village Inn on Grand River in 1972. The original pub was torn down more than 10 years ago, replaced by a two-story brick building designed in Dublin, Ireland and built with fixtures imported from Ireland and Holland, according to a history posted at johncowleys.com

The business name changed as the couple's three sons, Gregory, Michael and Patrick, became involved. Chefs Brendan and Amy Cowley, Greg's son and daughter-in-law, represent the third generation in the family business. 

In an obituary published by the Farmington Observer, Greg Cowley described his father as "a hard case", but also very generous. 

“He had this very gruff exterior but he had such a heart. He had a gregarious personality," Cowley said. 

A funeral mass will be celebrated Tuesday, 10 a.m., at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Farmington, with burial at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield. The family will receive guests on Sunday, 2 p.m.-6 p.m., and Monday, 2 p.m.-8 p.m., at Heeney-Sundquist Funeral Home. Evening prayers will be said at 7 p.m. on Monday. 

In addition to his wife of 61 years, John Cowley is survived by sons Gregory and his wife Maureen, Michael and Patrick; a brother, Steven and his wife Freida; two sisters, Elizabeth and her husband John O'Rourke, and Claire Haughney; and grandchildren Sean and his wife Michele, Timothy and his wife Erin, Brendan and his wife Amy, Errin, Ryan, Shana, Chelsey, and Rory. 


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