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Obituary: William Cowling, Dixieline president

William Cowling Jr., the former president of Dixieline Lumber, died of Parkinson’s disease on Nov. 27. He was 81 years old.

Known to most people as simply “Cowling,” the retired lumberman began working at Dixie Lumber in San Diego while his father, William Cowling Sr., was one of the owners. After a merger and a name change, the Cowling family sold Dixieline Lumber to Weyerhaeuser in 1979. Fifteen years later, in 1994, the family regained control of the company.

In 2003, the 90-year-old lumberyard chain was sold to Lanoga Corp. By then it had grown to a company with 10 locations serving most of Southern California, including a truss and component plant, a lumber distribution facility and a lumber shipping facility on the Columbia River in Oregon. Annual revenues were $230 million. 

Cowling stayed on as a consultant for several years at Dixieline, which later became part of ProBuild. During his retirement, Cowling became active in law enforcement, becoming a reserve officer for the San Diego Police Department as well as the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Cowling is survived by his wife Ovie, of 47 years, seven children, and 12 grandchildren.