Deacon Robert “Bob” Rowland, who passed away on July 15, 2017 at age 73, is well remembered for his love for and service to the Filipino community.
The deacon’s family and friends had fond memories of him as they noted his services as a religious man and as a member of the community during a memorial mass held last Aug. 30 at the Philippine American Cultural Center (PACCM). The mass marked the 40th day of his passing.
Reverend Rowland, who was born and raised in Dearborn, Michigan, was inducted into the deaconate on Jan. 14, 1980 and was deacon for several years at the San Sebastian church in Dearborn.
In brief remarks delivered at the mass celebrated by Fr. Tim Galos, his daughter Gina and son Bob Rowland, Jr. said their dad truly loved the Filipino community, “regularly coming here at PACCM” and attending almost all Filipino events such as the Kalayaan Picnic and Valentine’s Day.
Often, he would deliver the invocation.
Gina said, “He was caring, and touched you in a way that gave you strength.” Bob Jr. said, “We can honor my father by rendering service to other people.”
His widow, Filipina Fe Desiar Rowland, echoed the same observation that her husband really loved the Filipino-American community. She recalled that a few days after his death, “a butterfly was always following me, and this did not scare her because she knew it was Bob. “I know you’re here but get out of the way, I told him,” Fe related.
Aside from his wife and three children, the deacon is survived by his in-laws – Mark Kohls, married to Gina; Kerri, married to Roland Jr.; and Devon, married to Eric Rowland; and grandchildren – Caitlin Kohls, Matthew Kohls, Nicolas Rowland and Ryan.
Fe recalled that she met Bob (who looked like actor Donald Pleasance in his younger days) for the first time in Korat, Thailand. She was then a member of a Philippine Catholic group that conducted a mission in Korat. Bob, who was then a US Army soldier, was stationed in Thailand.
Love bloomed in the next months, and they got married in Dumaguete City, Philippines in 1970.
Emily Lawsin, a friend of the Rowland family, also has fond remembrances of the deacon.
Lawsin wrote, “I am so sad about Tito Bob who passed away on July 15, 2017. He and his wife, Tita Fe Desiar Rowland, were like my second set of parents in Michigan. He was one of my spiritual advisors as he was an ordained Catholic deacon, who blessed our marriage and home.
“He was a founding member of our Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS), Michigan chapter, and served as the chapter’s first vice president. He was an avid supporter of our Filipino Youth Initiative class at Paaralang Pilipino housed at PACCM in which he served as director for many years, He was a lifelong resident of Dearborn, and would often share stories about racism and racist mayor the city had in the 1950s-60s. Rest in peace, Tito Bob.”