Jessica Dee Cowles

August 27, 1984 – August 25, 2023

Jess was a force. She cared deeply for her friends and loved ones. She advocated for the right for everyone to live their authentic lives, and for equality and justice and for responsible stewardship of this beautiful planet… not as political statements … but as the soul of who she was. That said, she relished her responsibility to vote and did so with excitement and commitment, and encouraged others to do the same.

She loved animals, especially her kitty, Maceo. He was her baby and she shared her love for him with the world through a continuing stream of photos on social media. She loved all creatures especially giraffes, decorated her living room with them, and elephants and often shared sweet photos of them.

She had just returned from a 3-day vacation on Lake Huron and was delighted when she saw a bald eagle up close on the drive up.

Jess was as brilliant as she was beautiful. She was an amazing professional photographer who had an uncanny way of capturing special moments and the essence of her subjects creatively, sensitively, artistically and with passion. For a few years she served as the official photographer for the MSU Jazz Studies Program.  She believed love is love and that everyone should be allowed to live and celebrate their love as they wish. She was a creative genius in all things she did whether it was her photography, her acrylic painting, her album jacket, logo and poster designing, her cooking, her home décor… you name it, she approached it with a creative eye and a flourish of optimism and professionalism. She loved music and enmeshed herself in the local music scene where she was loved by so many. She had a quirky and whip smart sense of humor that brought heart, joy, and laughter to all who knew her. She was one of a kind and her absence has left a giant hole in the Lansing community and beyond.

Her helping, consoling, accepting, supporting, and loving nature touched so many lives, many of whom credit her for making their lives so much better.  She was an inspiration for goodness in all she did.

Jess is survived by her partner, the love of her life, Will Rideoutt, her adoring mother and father, Karen and Fred Cowles, her brother and his wife, Tyson and Beth Cowles, her sister and her husband, Corinna and Shawn Sweeny, and her 3 beautiful nieces, Sydney Cowles, and Erin and Lauren Sweeny.  Our hearts are broken and she will be deeply, deeply missed.

Anyone wishing to see some of the images and thoughts she had in her photography efforts, a snapshot of her brilliance, can see her professional website at

A celebration of life is planned for September 24, 2023 from 2 to 5 PM at the Unity Spiritual Center of Lansing, 2395 Washington Rd, Lansing, MI 48911

2 PM – Gather and Greet, Music, Art, and Photographs, Hors d’oeuvres (Potluck items optional but welcome)

3 PM – Time for Sharing Stories, Reminiscences

4 PM – Closing Remarks

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3 Messages to “Jessica Dee Cowles

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David McCarthy
August 30, 2023 at 9:51 pm

I am shocked and saddened and cannot imagine how you feel. Please update me with information on the memorial service, if possible.

Brad Horn
September 1, 2023 at 9:17 am

If you can please pass my condolences along to Will I would appreciate it. He and I were friends in high school. We haven’t spoken in a long, long time, but he still has a place in my heart, so hearing this news brought great sadness for him and Jess’s friends and family. I am so sorry, Will. For whatever this is worth, please know I am thinking of you as I’m sure many others are, as well.

Laura Rakowski-Cole
September 10, 2023 at 6:00 pm

I only met Jess once but we “spoke” on FB quite often. I knew of her talents, her passions and her advocacy. She was an incredible soul. My condolences to her loved ones.


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