Prominent Former Sidney Resident Passes Away in Florida
Mowery Leaves Legacy of Business and Philanthropy
June 22, 2023
Many long-time Sidney residents were saddened to hear of the passing of David Mowery on May 27 in Cape Coral, Florida. Mowery was well-known and respected in the Sidney community after moving here in the early 1980's to take the job as National Sales Manager for Safe Play Tuff Wear, a manufacturer of boxing equipment. Mowery eventually started up USAprons, here in Sidney, manufacturing aprons and uniform apparel for service industries.
His wife, Robyn, spoke of David and the rich life and lasting legacy he leaves. They were married in 1979, with David telling her that although he did not know what the future would bring for them, their life together would never be boring. David Mowery kept that promise throughout all the twists and turns in life David and Robyn would navigate together.
David was born in 1951 in Kansas City, Missouri. He met Robyn in August of 1978 as a "blind date" at a mutual friends' house party and were married less than one year later in June of 1979. The couple and their son Stuart, moved to Rochester, N.Y. where David had been hired by Champion Products as New Product Development Associate. Although Rochester offered a new and entertaining life for the family, David and Robyn missed their midwestern roots, and when the opportunity to move arose, they jumped at the chance.
"When Champion hired David, they said they were looking for someone innovative and unconventional - a real 'Maverick' as they say," said Robyn. "Unfortunately, saying you want a 'Maverick', and then actually having one working for you, can be a different experience than you bargained for."
Mowery stayed at Champion for about nine months, but it was becoming clear that it wasn't working out well for him there, plus he needed to make more money to support the family. Fortunately, the nature of his position at Champion allowed him to travel to many trade shows and conferences, where he started to get to know many people at other companies in affiliated industries, and a great opportunity arose.
Mowery had met and developed a relationship with the president of Safe Play Tuff-Wear, a manufacturer of boxing equipment located in Sidney, while working the trade-show circuit. David was able to secure a new job with Safe Play Tuff Wear as National Sales Manager, and Mowery family left Rochester and moved to Sidney, much closer to both of their families. The family was flown into Sidney via private plane during a heavy winter snowstorm, and when Robyn got off the plane and was greeted by large men with cowboy hats, she thought to herself, "What did we get ourselves into?" Their second child Sarah Nicole was born shortly after they arrived in Sidney.
David's time at Safe Play Tuff Wear was eventful, as he traveled the country representing the company and selling equipment. David scored big when he met with, and convinced, Sylvester Stallone to wear Tuff Wear boxing gloves in one of the "Rocky" movies, elevating the brand and opening doors for David in the world of show business. He met many movie stars from his association with Stallone, and Robyn was able to enjoy many of the events and outings her husband's job afforded them. Robyn told of one story in Las Vegas, "We were at an old-timers' boxing event, where David was one of the featured guests. He had brought special boxing gloves for the old-timers to wear, and at the event he noticed that he had brought down the wrong gloves, so he sent me back up to the room to get the right ones. In the room I noticed three silver dollars, and brought them with me. In the lobby, there was a dollar slot machine, and having three silver dollars, I didn't let the opportunity pass. I put in the coins and hit a jackpot. David eventually found me at the machine and wondered why I hadn't brought him the gloves, and when I told him I was waiting on a jackpot payout, he told me--"The Hell with the gloves for those old geezers, we're staying here until we get the money!""
David eventually left Safe Play Tuff Wear and opened his own manufacturing company, USAprons in Sidney. The business manufactured aprons and uniforms and did embroidery for institutional uniforms. The business was successful for many years, even surviving a big fire in the early 1990's.
"The building next door was a home healthcare facility and some oxygen lit on fire and spread to the USAprons building. It was so cold and windy the next day the building was covered in long spiky icicles from the water and fire retardant sprayed on the fire," she remembered.
The business became so successful that they expanded their product line to include dog beds and decoy bags for Cabela's and they opened a satellite plant in Ogallala and bought and additional building to house the large inventory manufactured by his employees. Their son Stuart became a big part of the company, and learned screen printing, accounts receivable and all other aspects of the business. Stuart did most of the traveling to trade shows and events as David started to get up in years.
However, this did not stop David from traveling and meeting customers on a regular basis, and the nationwide distribution of USAprons basically allowed David and Robyn to travel pretty much anywhere in the United States
David was also a philanthropist, and he helped numerous employees and associates, local charities and WNCC whenever he could. He was a pillar in the community, and his big personality made him friends wherever he went. It was a tough decision, but when David decided to retire, the family decided to move to Florida for more favorable weather and to be closer to their daughter and family. David was already an avid golfer, with many friends and compatriots at Hillside Golf Club in Sidney, but in Florida he got to enjoy his passion year-round.
In the last days of his life, David refused to stay in a hospital bed and went home to rest and live out the rest of his days at his Florida home. He enjoyed watching nature and being with his family in his last days, and passed at home and at peace. There will be a graveside service for Dave at Greenwood Cemetery in Lexington, NE at 10:00 am on July 15th, followed by a Celebration of Life at The Nautical Rose at Johnson Lake.
David accomplished many things and touched many people in his life, but his greatest achievement was fulfilling his promise to wife, Robyn, that life for them "Would never be boring." It never was, and David will be remembered as a bright light in the world that brought happiness and joy to many. He will be missed.