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Longtime firefighter loses battle with cancer
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Forsyth County News

A Forsyth County firefighter and father of two will be laid to rest Sunday, following a hard-fought battle with cancer.

Robby Cowart, 36, died Wednesday at a hospital in Texas after undergoing months of experimental treatment for osteosarcoma, a cancer that forms in bone.

Cowart's wife, Melody, said Friday she is relying on her faith to get her through the difficult time.

"I've really become a lot closer to God and I'm OK with [his passing]," she said. "I know that God knows more than we do what we need and things happen for a reason."

She said her husband often recalled a specific passage from the Bible, Isaiah 58:8, to get him through the most difficult times.

"'Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard,'" she said.

Their daughters, 13-year-old Kirsten and 9-year-old Katelyn, are handling their father's loss as best they can, she said.

"I'm not real sure if it's hit them totally," she said. "I prayed to God that he would let me take this a little bit at a time and I'm hoping that he has extended the same thing to them."

Her husband always made sure that she and the girls would be taken care of, she said.

"We were his life, the fire department was his life," she said. "His friends were a great part of his life. He cared about everybody. He did not have an enemy in the world."

Cowart was first diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2001, when it appeared on the left side of his head. He underwent surgery and chemotherapy.

The disease reappeared in 2005 and after more surgeries and radiation, doctors told him it was gone,

But the cancer resurfaced this year in his lungs. He went in June to Texas, where he participated in clinical trials of a new drug.

Cowart had returned to Georgia, but went back to Texas about three weeks ago when his health started to deteriorate.

Cowart started his 15-year tenure with the Forsyth County Fire Department as a volunteer and later became a professional firefighter. He was reassigned earlier this year from Station 3 to administrative duties because of his illness.

On Thursday, firefighters brought Cowart's body back to Cumming from the Atlanta airport in an engine designated for use by the fire department honor guard.

Forsyth County Fire Chief Danny Bowman said Cowart was a "fireman's fireman."

"He was respected by every firefighter who knew him and his professionalism and dedication is missed even now," Bowman said. "His love for the job was only superseded by his love and devotion to his family."

Cowart's older brother, Steve Cowart, and younger sister, Christie Drake, organized a raffle in June to help raise money for his trip to Texas. They said they were grateful for the donations.

"Robby was the most loving and caring person that I know," his brother said. "He would take the shirt off his back to help you and he loved the fire department.

"He lived and breathed the fire department and he loved his girls and his wife and his family."

Drake said her brother was an amazing person who was loved dearly.

"He was this big 6 foot 4 guy with a gentle, kind, loving heart who always seemed to see the best in everyone," she said.

"He loved Melody and the girls more than anything else in the world and he dedicated 15 years of his short life to the fire department and loved every second of it."

Cowart's siblings both commended the fire department for its support during and after their brother's illness.

"Anything we've asked them to do they've jumped at it 100 percent," Steve Cowart said. "We really couldn't have made it without them."

Funeral services for Robby Cowart are scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday at First Christian Church at 1270 Sawnee Drive in Cumming. Interment will follow at Sawnee View Memorial Gardens.