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Founder of research firm, Eric McDowell, dies

Juneau services planned for Aug. 22

Posted: August 16, 2012 - 12:07am
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Eric McDowell entertains the crowd at Silverbow Inn during the annual Alaska Folk Festival week in 2011.  Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Eric McDowell entertains the crowd at Silverbow Inn during the annual Alaska Folk Festival week in 2011.

JUNEAU — McDowell Group Inc. says founder Eric McDowell has died following a brief illness. He was 69.

Managing Principle Jim Calvin says McDowell had suffered a systemic staph infection that had a range of side effects. He had been hospitalized in Seattle when he died Monday.

Calvin praised McDowell as a “brilliant researcher, consultant and facilitator,” whose wisdom will be missed.

The company is billed as one of the leading Alaska firms specializing in research and consulting. McDowell, among other things, is credited with designing a study that examined the cost of living throughout Alaska and, according to his company, set the standard for cost of living research in Alaska.

As McDowell Group’s founder, McDowell made a career of studying Alaska and helping corporate, non-profit, and public agencies succeed. His professional passions included Alaska Native corporate and tribal interests, strategic planning and facilitation, Alaska’s seafood and tourism industries, and helping address the state’s major social issues. He enjoyed the challenge of complex research projects such as the ongoing Alaska Travelers Survey, which McDowell Group commenced in 2001.

McDowell was born in Juneau, raised in Haines, and educated at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (B.A., Psychology) and the University of Oregon (MBA, Marketing/Marketing Research). He served as the Deputy Director of the Alaska Division of Tourism, and was experienced in the seafood and petroleum industries.

A lifetime basketball junkie, McDowell played competitively at age 65. He served on the board of Alaska Pacific Bank and is a past board member of the Healing Hand Foundation and the Rainforest Recovery Center. McDowell was a certified counselor (NCAC I) and was involved in the personal growth movement. Additionally, he has more than 30 years experience as a commercial salmon troller.

McDowell is survived by a son, Chris, and his partner, Lana Tolls.

Services are planned for Aug. 22 in Juneau.

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