Monday, April 28, 2014

Trending: John Rowe

Picture of Dr. John Rowe
taken at Commencement 2011
After the passing of Dr. John Rowe, there was a modest flurry of activity on Facebook. A Page was created by the University In memory of Dr. John Philip Rowe where people are invited "to share memories of Dr. John Rowe, longtime employee and friend of Hope International University, who passed away on April 7." But people also wrote on Dr. Rowe's personal Facebook page and the Hope International University / Pacific Christian College Alumni Page. And of course, people like me also posted about our grief on our own pages.

I don't know how many people attended the memorial service on April 25th in the Pacific Auditorium but all offices of the university were closed, extra Campus Safety officers were on duty, and special parking arrangements were made for the event.

As people were handed programs, signed the guest book and were seated, Dr. Sung Wan Cho played the piano. Her prelude gave way to a slide show which was accompanied by a sound recording of John Rowe speaking at Knott Avenue Christian Church on May 21, 1972. The recording had been posted on the In memory of Dr. John Philip Rowe page by alumnus, Ron Cushing and can be viewed on YouTube.

I attended the event as one whose life was touched by the man personally in so many ways over the thirty-seven years I knew him.

After the slide show, President John Derry welcomed us and introduced those who would be bringing words of remembrance. One such message came in the form of a video recording by Ben Cachiaras, Senior Pastor at Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, Maryland (asked to speak because of numerous family and professional connections.) Also two letters from previous presidents under whom Dr. Rowe also served, Leroy Lawson and Knofel Staton, were read by Dr. Derry.

Dr. Mark Comeaux, Vice President for Student Affairs, and Professor Steve Alley brought remarks in person. Chris LaPel read scripture and prayed, and Dr. David Matson brought a message about how Dr. Rowe lived out the mission of Christ.

We heard two beautiful solos, "It is Well With My Soul" sung by Sarah Williams and "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" sung by Dr. Joseph Cho, who also led the congregation in singing, "To God Be The Glory" as Dr. Rowe would have done it. A painting called, "Christ with the Sparrow" by Artist Joyce Pike was on stage throughout the service.

It was a beautiful tribute and uniquely appropriate as Katherine Rowe spoke up from the audience on occasion to direct speakers as only she could do.

The reception was also a singular event, which served as a sort of alumni reunion for former students spanning more than half of the University's history. And fittingly, many of Dr. Rowe's famous ties were available in exchange for a donation to the John and Katherine Rowe Scholarship Fund.

Later as I reflected on these things with my librarian hat on I thought about how wonderful it would be to develop a lasting tribute to this man who has meant so much to Hope. A collection including artifacts from the memorial service: the program, the slide show, the Cachiaras video, letters from the presidents, the guest book, the message by Dr. Matson, and notes from the others could be preserved in the traditional University archives. And a digital repository could be created for public access that includes links to the Facebook pages so those memories would not be lost in cyberspace.

Dr. Rowe's "legacy of hope" would be worth the effort.

Read about the man on the HIU website.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ Robin Hartman is Director of Library Services at Hope International University. She is curious about how the organization and communication of information shapes society and is committed to equipping students to impact the world for Christ.

1 comment:

Thais Johnson said...

Thank you so much for your post, Robin...I wasn't able to attend the memorial and so appreciate you documenting it. A wonderful tribute to a wonderful man who touched so many lives, mine included...he will be missed...thais shepherd johnson