MORGAN CITY, La. — Charley Gowland, a longtime Louisiana tire industry businessmen who founded Chabill's Tire & Auto Service in 1968, died on Jan. 24. He was 76.
Mr. Gowland and Billy Parker founded Chabill's Tire in 1968 in an unorthodox series of events. Mr. Gowland, a bookkeeper with no auto aftermarket experience at the time, had approached a BF Goodrich Tire sales rep and asked why there were no BFG dealers in Morgan City.
BFG in return approached Mr. Gowland with an opportunity to become its dealer there. He, in turn, invited Mr. Parker, an auto technician, to come into business with him.
Messrs. Gowland and Parker combined their first names to form the "Chabill's" brand.
Today, Chabill's has 18 locations in a dozen Southern Louisiana cities with combined 130 employees, including shops in Morgan City, Houma, Thibodaux, Bayou Vista, Broussard, Raceland, Lafayette, Youngsville, Baton Rouge, Prairieville, Gonzales and Boutte. The company has expanded its portfolio of tires it sells as well as the services it provides.
Mr. Gowland was a member of the Louisiana Independent Tire Dealers Association and served on the board of directors for the last 20 years. During his tenure he was president, vice president and convention chairman.
Mr. Gowland's daughter, Elizabeth Gowland Barron, was named CEO of Chabill's on Jan. 1, assuming the position from her father.
Ms. Barron has worked at Chabill's for the last 26 years in a variety of positions, most recently as vice president of operations and sales.
"I plan to continue the tradition of high quality customer service that has been established under my father's leadership," she said at the time. "With the ongoing support of the Chabill's leadership team, we will continue to offer high quality products and superior technical services. We will also continue to look at expansion opportunities."
The St. Mary Parish Chamber of Commerce recognized Mr. Gowland's business as Business of the Year, noting its 50 years of operation.
Mr. Gowland is survived by his wife of 51 years, Peggy Cefalu Gowland; his children, Catherine David and husband Tim; Beth Barron and husband Carey; Charles L. Gowland Jr.; and Joanna Marx and husband Jeffrey; 14 grandchildren; and two siblings.
Visitation will be Jan. 28 from 6-9 p.m. at Twin City Funeral Home in Morgan City. Visitation will resume Jan. 29 at 9 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Morgan City, with a Mass of Christian burial at 11 a.m. Interment will follow in Morgan City Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Mr. Gowland's memory may be made to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church Maintenance Fund, P.O. Box 632, Morgan City, LA, Central Catholic High School, 2100 Cedar Street, Morgan City, La.