WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Michael McGowan, owner of the popular Carolina Beach Restaurant Michael's Seafood, died at Duke University Hospital in Durham Tuesday evening.
A cystic fibrosis patient and lung transplant recipient, McGowan, well known for his internationally awarded seafood chowder, was also a champion for those suffering from cystic fibrosis.
Every year since 1998, when the restaurant opened Michael, his wife Shelly, and the entire McGowan family has hosted the Shrimp Open Golf Tournament to raise money for cystic fibrosis and lung transplant research. Over $370,000 has been raised since the event started.
The proceeds have been donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Duke University Medical Center Lung Transplant Program.
According to friends of the family, McGowan had been in the hospital for several weeks due to complications related to cystic fibrosis. McGowan was diagnosed with the disease at the age of one, but severe complications caused him to need a lung transplant, a procedure he underwent in 2003.
McGowan was not only a chef, but a friend, husband and above all a loving father. His friends are showing support to his family on Facebook.
Alexis Smith, who also has cystic fibrosis, wrote:
As a fellow CFer, I've admired Michael for years because of his ability to stay strong and fight the disease. He has done so much for the Cystic Fibrosis community. I can only hope I will make an impact like he has. I feel for his family and friends and pray they find peace and serenity with his passing.
Co-worker Sean OConnell wrote:
It is with a heavy, heavy, heart that I say goodbye to one of the bravest, kindest, most generous man that I have ever known. Michael McGowan left this world last night and is now one of God's Angels. I take comfort that his pain is gone, and I will do everything I can possibly do to help Shelley, Dylan and Davis through this most difficult time. Please say a prayer for the McGowans and be assured that if you knew Michael, he is watching over you. Amen
According to the Cystic Fibrosis website, "Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that: clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; and obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food."
Average life expectancy for cystic fibrosis victims is 37 years. McGowan made it to 46. Doctors told him he was one of the lucky ones to survive the cureless disease year after year.
McGowan is survived by his wife and two children.
Friends of the family say funeral arrangements have not been finalized, but everyone is welcome to stop by the restaurant for a bowl of chowder in remembrance of the chef.
Copyright 2012 WECT. All rights reserved.