RANCHO SANTA FE — Services for Dr. R. Roger Rowe will be at 1 p.m. March 31 at the Village Church in Rancho Santa Fe.Anne Feighner, who is helping make the arrangements for the memorial service, said those attending should think about going in carpools.“We can seat 1,400 in the church, but I think we are going to have a very full house, “she said.
The beloved namesake of the local school passed away Feb. 4 from a heart attack at his home in Rancho Santa Fe. He was 82.
“I think Lindy (Delaney) said it best when she said we all thought he was immortal and would always be around,” said Pete Smith, manager of the Association.
Rowe had a hand in the education of at least three generations of Rancho Santa Fe students.
He came to the school in 1958 where he worked as a teacher and vice principal until 1961 before he was promoted to superintendent.
“When he retired in 2001, as you can imagine, the community was emotional because he had been the backbone of the school and the community,” said Delaney, who is now superintendent.
“They felt his consistency in this position is what made everything work so well, so the school board made the decision to name the school after him,” Delaney said. “A nice tribute for his dedication for 43 years.”
His own children went through his school.
“He loved having his kids at the school,” she said. “He got to go to their games and watch them grow and progress.”
Delaney came aboard to teach science and physical education in 1986 when there were 424 students. Rowe became her mentor.
“The best advice he gave me when I was a teacher was to see each student as an individual and meet their needs academically, socially and athletically,” she said.
Later when she was promoted to superintendent he gave her different advice. “He told me to treat the district like it is your own, but you have to always understand it belongs to the community,” she said.
Kem (cq) Graham, was a former student who went from first through eighth grade at the school beginning in 1972.
“It was during those wonder years in Rancho Santa Fe when Dr. Rowe was the king of our kingdom. It was a magical time to grow up there,” Graham said. “All of my friends had ponies or a horse. We would meet up in town, tie up our horses at the bank and have lunch at Ashley’s for five bucks and be gone all day. Ruling over all of that was Roger Rowe. He was the most unique man I have ever met. He has been a mentor to me over the course of my whole life.”
After college, Graham went back to the school to teach and is now director of admissions at the Rhoades School.
She said that at every level of her career, she received a letter of recommendation from Rowe and she has kept in touch with him over the years.
“He was a lovely, lovely individual I’ve had the privilege to know,” she said.
Lisa Bartlett, who came to Rancho Santa Fe as a teenager in 1967, lived across the street from the Rowe family and worked as a playground supervisor at the school when she was 18 and 19.
“They were great neighbors,” Bartlett said. “They still are.”
She said Rowe was always on campus, even in the summer.
“I think he considered all children, his children,” she said. “He knew every child’s name. He knew every parent. I don’t know anyone he didn’t know. He was a wonderful member of the community. I never saw him without a smile on his face. He was always upbeat and had a love for life.”
When he retired in 2001, a resident donated a bust of him that is displayed in the library at the school. Delaney wanted to offer a biography to accompany the bust and was consulting with Rowe on this “work in progress.”
Rowe grew up in Lee’s Summit, Mo., where he was part of its largest high school class of 63 students, the biography said.
His parents separated when he was quite young and he credits his mother for his caring demeanor. He served in the U.S. Navy, earning a scholarship to fund his education.
“Dr. Rowe’s lauds and accolades spanned a more than 50-year career, but it is the numerous generations of students inspired by their time with him that was most precious. Rowe’s legendary high standards for his teachers, administrators and students have cemented a legacy that will continue as long as there is a love for learning and teaching, the biography said.
He was firm in the belief that learning is a process that is never complete.
On the subject of choosing a career path, Dr. Rowe often encouraged his students to “enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy.”
“Even in retirement, his constant presence at the school was a daily reminder of the hard work and passion given to secure a bright future for each of his students. On any given afternoon, Rowe could be seen supporting his former students’ children and grandchildren on the athletic fields and on the basketball court, or at weddings, christenings, and graduation ceremonies. The overwhelming legacy he leaves behind is a testament to the power education has, not only to inform, but also to connect each of us in a way that is truly permanent, the biography said.
He is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Jane; daughter Janet Majel of Pauma Valley; son Stephen who lives in Arizona and California; son Carl who lives in Texas; and seven grandchildren.