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Richard C. and Ellen M. Gower Fund
By Jean Cohoon / December 31, 2013 /   Loading Disqus...
“We both feel very grateful to Rhode Island,” says Ellen Gower, noting it is where she enjoyed a successful banking career and her husband, Dick, ran his family’s business, White Fuel Company, for 47 years.

Ellen, who grew up in Richmond, VA, elaborates, “I fell in love with Rhode Island. It’s beautiful, close to skiing and the ocean, and Providence is such a nice, small city. There’s always something going on.”

Ellen came to Rhode Island by way of Northwestern University (where she earned her B.S. in radio/TV) and New York City, where she was a TV commercial production assistant at McCann Erickson Advertising. In 1963, her first marriage brought her to Rhode Island, and 10 years later she began her banking career at then-Industrial National Bank (later Fleet, now Bank of America) as an administrative assistant, becoming a lending officer, followed by a four-year stint as manager of the bank’s Barrington branch.

While advancing her career, Ellen met her second husband. Dick, a native Rhode Islander, is a graduate of Moses Brown School and Washington and Lee University. Following graduation, he entered the Navy’s Officer Candidate School, Newport, and served in Naval Intelligence for four years. After his discharge, he returned to Rhode Island to run the family business.

When he took over, White Fuel had 230 customers and six employees. Ellen relates, “Dick is a real people person, loves to get to know his customers, and consequently was a great salesman. He was very industrious and was quite successful in building the company’s customer base to nearly 10,000 with 50+ employees by the time he sold the business and retired.”

Ellen worked at White Fuel for four years before resuming her banking career in corporate cash management, first at Fleet and later running that department at Old Stone Bank. When she retired at age 49, as a vice president, she was ready “to pause and smell the roses.”

“It’s which choices we select that make the all the difference in life,” Ellen notes. One of those choices brought the Gowers to the Foundation where they established this donor advised fund.
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