And then there was Bob Rowley.
John Robert Rowley was born in Narberth PA in 1922 and was a leader at his schools. He was President of his Class of 1942 at Amhurst College. He was in the US Navy from 1942 to 1946 and was a Navigator in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. After returning to civilian life, he held promotion positions in several companies and the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda. When I met Bob he was Director of Public Relations for the Goodyear Company, located in Houston and he, like me, was a member of the Champions Golf Club. We and Bob and his second wife, Pleasantine lived literally in the middle of one of Champion’s two golf courses. We were also both members of the infamous Forty Thieves morning golf group. Bob liked Scotch whiskey and he had a habit of ringing our door bell about 9.00 pm and saying he was just passing our house and thought he would drop in. Every time, I reminded him that I lived on a circle but he always stayed for two drinks, despite Doris making a point of saying, “Goodnight Bob. I am going to bed.”
Goodyear had a Blimp in Houston from 1969 to 1991 and Bob had been in the middle of the controversy with the City and the FAA back in 1968 when there was no hanger or desire to build one. In 1969, the 169 foot long “America” , the largest dirigible in the world at that time, came to Spring, TX, spent most summers in and around Texas and went on tour in the north in winter. Bob retired from Goodyear in 1984 but in 1986 he was able to use his influence to get me and my friend, Al Richards a ride in it. It was too windy for us to reach Champions where I had hoped to photograph our house but we had a smooth and un-eventful ride. The landing was a bit of a shock when the captain tilted us down at 45 degrees and headed for the ground in a full power dive. About 20 feet from the ground, we suddenly were horizontal again and secured by the ground crew.
The Men’s Association at Champions golf Club ran all the seasons tournaments, including the Locker Room Rhubarb near Christmas. This was originally a fight between teams of the two owners of the club, Jimmy Demaret and Jack Burke. On Jimmy’s death, it became the north locker room against the south with the losers buying the dinner for the winners. The Board of Directors for the Men’s Assoc. was governed by 12 directors, each serving for three years and four new directors coming in each year to maintain continuity. When Bob was elected as President, I was honored to be one of his new directors. At the annual meeting, the retiring directors were presented with a framed photograph of their favorite hole. These were purchased from Bob Rowley, who in his retirement had started a business photographing golf courses. If anyone got a hole-in-one that year, they also got one of Bob’s pictures of the hole. (Bob wasn’t losing his skills in retirement and was probably keeping himself in Scotch.) The custom was for the Directors to have a rubber-chicken type dinner after the annual business meeting but promoter Rowley would have none of that. He up-scaled the dinner to include rack of lamb, great desserts and generous quantities of wine. (This was promptly changed when Bob’s term ended.) Joining in with Bob’s more interesting changes, we decided to have a less boring presentation of the new President and his VP, Secretary and Treasurer. I made four large top hats with the golf club logo. They were large enough to drop over the shoulders with the individual inside holding them in place with their hands raised. Below the top hats were normal trousers but with a big bow clipped on the belt buckle. The individual inside wore no shirt and a large face was drawn on his naked tummy with large red lips accenting the navel. With large blue eyes and black eye lashes and eyebrows the faces looked funny. The costume was completed with the jacket draped at hip level on bent wire coat hangers tucked in each side of the pants. The ensemble looked like four short fat Humpty Dumpty dwarfs and when enhanced by them marching in to the Colonel Bogey march from Bridge over the River Kwai, it was hilarious. The gathered members loved it but one complaining letter was sent to the club owner, Jack Burke.
It could be said of Bob that his light shone brightly in all environments and it created fun in the lives of everyone he met. Bob retired to his wife’s home in East Lansing Michigan where he taught school and was a soccer coach. I personally know that Bob knew nothing about soccer but I bet his team loved him. He died in 2007 aged 87.