David Lee Cowger, a well-read and well-traveled journalist who spent 25 years at The Bee, died Jan. 13 of cancer complications, his family said. He was 81.
Mr. Cowger retired in 1992 after working as an editor for The Bee's news and feature sections. He also wrote travel stories about destinations around the world, from exciting European capitals to a work camp in Deadhorse, Alaska.
His interests in travel and world affairs were shaped by career experiences. He earned a master's degree in Latin American studies at Stanford University and studied Spanish in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He worked on the foreign desk at the Associated Press in New York before joining The Bee in 1967.
Born in 1930 in Walden, N.Y., Mr. Cowger served aboard Navy ships during the Korean War and graduated from Ithaca College in New York.
He began working in 1958 as a copy reader and became assistant city editor at the Ithaca Journal. He later worked at the Palo Alto Times and the AP in San Francisco, and he was a stringer for Reuters while working at The Bee.
Colleagues recalled an intelligent man with a dry wit and a newspaper and cigarette always in his hands. Although Mr. Cowger gave up smoking, reading was a lifelong passion, his son said.
"He would come home in the afternoon after having been at The Bee all day and read other dailies," said his son, Eric. "He loved to read."
Mr. Cowger, who lived in the Bay Area after retiring, was divorced from his former wife, Olga. Survivors include his son, who lives in Pleasanton; sister, Joan Cloutier; brother, Brian; and a granddaughter.
No memorial is planned. Donations in memory of Mr. Cowger may be made to The Jewish Home in San Francisco or any charity.