PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Friends and family came together Friday to celebrate the life of Kevin McDowell, a Portland entrepreneur and artist who drowned in late June, after jumping in the Columbia River to save a woman who was struggling to swim. From laughter and funny memories to tear-filled goodbyes, many emotions were expressed at the memorial as those who knew McDowell came to say goodbye, many calling him a hero.
Sometimes, it’s hard to come up with the words to describe the life of someone. But for friends and family of McDowell, the stories are endless.
“Clearly the type to give up his last, including his life,” “he was funny, caring, genuine, selfless,” and “it was all love with whatever you did, you made people feel like they were family,” were just some of the sentiments expressed during his memorial service.
The 35-year-old died when he was boating on the Columbia River, and after seeing someone struggling to swim, he jumped in to save her, but didn’t make it back out.
“My son left here as a hero,” said Rhonda Jackson, McDowell’s mom. “He saved the life of a woman who had a child so that they could have a future so I’m proud of that.”
An artist and entrepreneur, many in the Portland community came forward Friday night to not only share how he touched their lives, but to make sure his sacrifice and legacy are not forgotten.
“To see the love these people have shown him and how people say he touched their lives and he inspired them to be better people. I love that, you know? I love that,” said Jackson.
She says she’s proud of her son and has made peace, but also hopes others will continue to carry his work in Portland forward, whether that’s lending a helping hand to someone in need, motivating the community’s kids to thrive, or living through his personal motto, ‘it’s all love.’
“I told him to always treat people better than you want them to treat you,” said Jackson. “That’s what he did, that’s what he lived by, so I’m grateful for that.”
Friends and family have also set up a website, RememberingKevin.com, where not only can loved ones share their favorite memories of McDowell, but anyone — even those who may not have known him — can see the impact he had in the Portland community and beyond.