Helen Rounds Rowan, 91, 50-year resident, beloved wife and mother

Helen Rounds Rowan, the wife of author/journalist Roy Rowan, died in her home in Greenwich on November 19. She was a resident of the town for more than 50 years.

Born in Detroit, MI on November 5,1922, she attended Olivet, a small liberal arts college in Michigan, where she majored in painting and sculpture. Hired by Life magazine as a picture editor in 1947, she met Roy Rowan who was on home leave from covering the Chinese Civil War and the Korean War.

Before their romance could blossom he was sent off to cover the Cold War in Europe. After proposing by transatlantic telephone, Roy convinced her to fly to Germany where they were married in Frankfurt on May 19, 1952. Last year they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with a party for 100 friends at the Indian Harbor Yacht Club. Roy wrote and produced a fifty-page illustrated book about Helen’s life as a souvenir for the guests to take home.

In 1955 the Rowans were transferred to Chicago where Roy was named bureau chief, responsible for Time’s and Life’s Midwestern coverage.

The family returned east in 1959 when Roy was promoted to Assistant Managing Editor of Life. It was then that they moved to Greenwich. That same year Helen sat home a little nervously while Roy traveled the U.S. with Jimmy Hoffa to write a series of articles about the Teamsters boss and his gangster cronies.

The Rowans stayed put in Greenwich until 1972 when Roy was appointed Time’s Hong Kong Bureau Chief, a roving reporter’s job covering China, Vietnam, and the other Southeast Asian countries. One time he was away for so long that Helen hopped a plane and paid a surprise visit to her husband in Saigon just a few weeks before the city fell to the Communists in 1975.

Returning to the U.S via the Trans-Siberian Railway, Roy settled down as a senior writer for Fortune magazine, involving many return trips to Asia, while Helen studied the Art of the Painted Finish, the Renaissance way of making wood look like it is made of minerals, inlaid ivory or gold, at The Isabel O’Neil Studio Workshop in New York City. Helen became so expert that some of her creations were auctioned at Sotheby’s and exhibited at Tiffany & Co.

Helen leaves behind her husband, Roy Rowan of Greenwich; four sons, Dana Rowan of Boston, Mass., Douglas Rowan of Oxnard, Calif., Nicholas Rowan of New York City, and Marcus Rowan of Dallas, Texas; a daughter-in-law, Janice Kelley-Rowan of Boston and one grandson, William Roy Rowan of Boston.

Recently Helen was honored by her youngest son Marcus who created the Helen Rowan Endowed Scholarship for the Arts at his alma mater, Hartwick College, in Oneonta, NY 13820. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the fund.

 

—by the family

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