Sir Zelman Cowen, 92, Australias head of state in late 70s

Sir Zelman Cowen, Australia’s governor-general from 1977 to 1982, died Dec. 8 in Melbourne after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Some 1,000 mourners attended his state funeral Dec. 13 at Temple Beth Israel in Melbourne.

Cowen was the second Jew to hold the highest monarchical office in the country; the first was Sir Isaac Isaacs. Cowen, a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, was a jurist, constitutional lawyer and university vice-chancellor. He was selected to be governor-general by Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser in December 1977.

Cowen was a Zionist and proud Jew. He once said that if Israel had been destroyed in the Six-Day War, “it would have destroyed me as a person.” — jta